Highland Tournament
Morgan Twp. vs. Whiting 11:00 am R1
Calumet at Highland 1:00 pm R1
Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 6:30 pm Con
Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 8:30 pm SF

Rich Twp. (Ill.) Tournament
Hammond Noll vs. Evergreen Park (Ill.) 7:30 pm

Wabash Valley Tournament
Sullivan vs. Robinson (Ill.) 10:00 am R1
West Vigo at Terre Haute South 11:30 am R1
Linton-Stockton vs. Bloomfield 1:00 pm R1
Northview vs. Parke Heritage 2:30 pm R1
Casey-Westfield (Ill.) vs. Marshall (Ill.) 4:00 pm R1
Shakamak vs. Edgewood 5:30 pm R1
Greencastle vs. Terre Haute North 7:00 pm R1
Cloverdale vs. South Vermillion 8:30 pm R1

Yorktown at Jay County 7:30 pm


Tuesday, Dec. 26

Quick Lane Bowl

Bowling Green vs. Minnesota

Detroit, Michigan

2 p.m. | ESPN

First Responder Bowl

Texas State vs. Rice

Dallas, Texas

5:30 p.m. | ESPN

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Kansas vs. UNLV

Phoenix, Arizona

9 p.m. | ESPN

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Military Bowl

Tulane vs. Virginia Tech

Annapolis, Maryland

2 p.m. | ESPN

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

North Carolina vs. West Virginia

Charlotte, North Carolina

5:30 p.m. | ESPN

Holiday Bowl

No. 15 Louisville vs. Southern Cal

San Diego, California

8 p.m. ET | FOX

Texas Bowl

No. 20 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M

Houston, Texas

9 p.m. | ESPN

Thursday, Dec. 28

Fenway Bowl

No. 24 SMU vs. Boston College

Boston, Massachusetts

11 a.m. | ESPN

Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers vs. Miami (Fla.)

The Bronx, New York

2:15 p.m. | ESPN

Pop-Tarts Bowl

No. 18 NC State vs. No. 25 Kansas State

Orlando, Florida

5:45 p.m. | ESPN

Alamo Bowl

No. 12 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Arizona

San Antonio, Texas

9:15 p.m. | ESPN

Friday, Dec. 29

Gator Bowl

No. 22 Clemson vs. Kentucky

Jacksonville, Florida

12 p.m. | ESPN

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

No. 16 Notre Dame vs. No. 19 Oregon State

El Paso, Texas

2 p.m. | CBS

Liberty Bowl

Memphis vs. Iowa State

Memphis, Tennessee

3:30 p.m. | ESPN

Cotton Bowl

No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Missouri

Dallas, Texas

8 p.m. | ESPN

Saturday, Dec. 30

Peach Bowl

No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 11 Ole Miss

Atlanta, Georgia

12 p.m. | ESPN

Music City Bowl

Auburn vs. Maryland

Nashville, Tennessee

2 p.m. | ABC

Orange Bowl

No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 6 Georgia

Miami Gardens, Florida

4 p.m. | ESPN

Arizona Bowl

Wyoming vs. Toledo

Tucson, Arizona

4:30 p.m. | CW Network/Barstool

Monday, Jan. 1, 2024

ReliaQuest Bowl

No. 13 LSU vs. Wisconsin

Tampa, Florida

12 p.m. | ESPN2

Citrus Bowl

No. 17 Iowa vs. No. 21 Tennessee

Orlando, Florida

1 p.m. | ABC

Fiesta Bowl

No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 23 Liberty

Glendale, Arizona

1 p.m. | ESPN

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl

No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Alabama

Pasadena, California

5 p.m. | ESPN

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl

No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas

New Orleans, Louisiana

8:45 p.m. | ESPN

Monday, Jan. 8

College Football Playoff National Championship Game

Houston, Texas

7:30 p.m. | ESPN


Atlanta 29 Indianapolis 10

Seattle 20 Tennessee 17

Green Bay 33 Carolina 30

Cleveland 36 Houston 22

NY Jets 30 Washington 28

Detroit 30 Minnesota 24

Tampa Bay 30 Jacksonville 12

Chicago 27 Arizona 16

New England 26 Denver 23

Miami 22 Dallas 20


Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs, 11 a.m., CBS, Nickelodeon (stream with free trial from FUBO)

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, 2:30 p.m., FOX, FOX Deportes (stream with free trial from FUBO)

Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers, 6:15 p.m., ABC, ESPN Plus, ESPN Deportes (stream with free trial from FUBO)


No games scheduled


No games scheduled


No games scheduled


No games scheduled




Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, and the Detroit Lions clinched their first division title in 30 years by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 30-24 on Sunday in Minneapolis.

Jared Goff completed 30 of 40 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown as the Lions (11-4) secured the NFC North Division title and a home game in the opening round of the playoffs. Amon-Ra St. Brown caught 12 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 411 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-36 passing but was also intercepted four times. Justin Jefferson caught six passes for 141 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (7-8).

Gibbs scored on a 3-yard run with 11:07 remaining as Detroit took a 30-21 lead. Vikings kicker Greg Joseph hit a 26-yard field goal with 5:19 left to cut the Lions’ lead to six. Minnesota drove to the Detroit 30 on its last possession, but Ifeatu Melifonwu stepped in front of Jefferson near the goal line for the game-clinching interception.

Dolphins 22, Cowboys 20

Jason Sanders drilled a 29-yard field goal as time expired and Miami clinched an AFC playoff spot with a victory over Dallas in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Sanders kicked five field goals — three of over 50 yards — and Tua Tagovailoa was 24-of-37 passing for 293 yards and one touchdown for the Dolphins (11-4). Raheem Mostert caught a scoring pass and Tyreek Hill had nine catches for 99 yards for Miami.

Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes for Dallas, including an 8-yarder to Brandin Cooks with 3:27 remaining to give the Cowboys a one-point lead. But Miami answered by driving 64 yards on 12 plays to set up Sanders’ decisive field goal. CeeDee Lamb caught six passes for 118 yards and one touchdown for the Cowboys (10-5).

Jets 30, Commanders 28

Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with five seconds left to give New York a victory over Washington in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Jets blew a 20-point lead in the second half before staging a game-saving, 31-yard drive directed by Trevor Siemian, who won as a starter for the first time since 2017. Siemian completed 27 of 49 passes for 217 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Breece Hall had 191 scrimmage yards (95 rushing, 96 receiving) and scored twice as the Jets (6-9) won for the second time in the past three weeks. In a game pitting teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs, quarterback Jacoby Brissett came off the bench in the third quarter and rallied Washington (4-11). Brissett completed 10 of 13 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Falcons 29, Colts 10

Taylor Heinecke threw for 229 yards and a touchdown, Younghoe Koo kicked five field goals and host Atlanta remained alive for an NFC playoff berth by beating Indianapolis.

Heinecke completed 23 of 33 passes for the Falcons (7-8), who remained one game behind NFC South leader Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers beat Jacksonville later Sunday. After hitting a pair of field goals in the second quarter, Koo helped put the game away in the fourth by connecting from 41, 35 and 25 yards.

Gardner Minshew cooled off after a hot start for Indianapolis (8-7), completing 20 of 37 passes for 201 yards with an interception. Jonathan Taylor rushed 18 times for 43 yards in his return from a three-game absence due to thumb surgery.

Packers 33, Panthers 30

Jordan Love threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and Anders Carlson kicked a 32-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining as Green Bay survived against Carolina in Charlotte, N.C.

Green Bay (7-8), which never trailed in the game, kept its hopes for an NFC wild-card spot alive by ending a two-game losing streak, aided by Aaron Jones rushing for 127 yards on 21 carries. Love was 17-of-28 passing for 219 yards.

The Panthers (2-13) tied the game with 4:05 remaining when DJ Chark Jr. hauled in his second fourth-quarter touchdown reception from Bryce Young. The 10-yard play came before Raheem Blackshear’s two-point conversion run pulled Carolina even. Young threw for 312 yards on 23-for-35 passing.

Browns 36, Texans 22

Joe Flacco passed for 368 yards and three touchdowns while Amari Cooper produced a franchise-record 265 receiving yards as Cleveland cruised to a win over host Houston.

Flacco and Cooper powered the Browns (10-5) to their third consecutive victory. Flacco tossed a pair of scoring strikes to Cooper and another to David Njoku. Cooper had a season-high 11 catches. His 265 yards not only surpassed the previous Browns mark of 261 set by Josh Gordon in 2013 against the Jaguars, but it was also the 17th-highest total in NFL history.

Stifled by the Browns’ top-ranked defense, quarterback Case Keenum — starting for the Texans (8-7) in place of standout rookie C.J. Stroud — passed for just 62 yards and tossed two interceptions while suffering three sacks.

Seahawks 20, Titans 17

Geno Smith threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including a 5-yarder to tight end Colby Parkinson with 57 seconds left, and Seattle bolstered its playoff hopes with a win over Tennessee in Nashville.

Smith, who missed the previous two games with a groin injury, completed 25 of 36 passes for 227 yards, including an 11-yard scoring strike to DK Metcalf with 12:10 remaining. Tyler Lockett matched a season high with eight catches for 81 yards for the Seahawks (8-7).

Derrick Henry rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Titans (5-10). Henry also threw a 12-yard scoring strike to tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo in the first half.

Buccaneers 30, Jaguars 12

Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes to Mike Evans and Tampa Bay took advantage of Jacksonville’s offensive follies to beat the visiting Jaguars.

Mayfield was 26-for-35 for 283 yards, including seven completions to Evans for 86 yards. Chase McLaughlin made three field goals for the Buccaneers (8-7), including a 51-yarder in the third quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence was 17-for-29 for 211 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in three quarters. C.J. Beathard replaced Lawrence in the fourth after he was ruled out with a right shoulder injury. The Jaguars (8-7) fell into a tie for first place with Indianapolis and Houston in the AFC South.

Bears 27, Cardinals 16

Justin Fields passed for one touchdown and rushed for another, and Chicago held on for a win over visiting Arizona.

Khalil Herbert rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown for Chicago (6-9), which won for the third time in its past four games. Marcedes Lewis had a receiving touchdown.

Kyler Murray completed 24 of 38 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns for the Cardinals (3-12). James Connor and Greg Dortch had one touchdown catch apiece.



Eastern Michigan’s athletic director released a statement Sunday condemning and apologizing for the actions of defensive back Korey Hernandez after the Eagles’ bowl game loss to South Alabama.

After South Alabama defeated Eastern Michigan 59-10 in the 68 Ventures Bowl on Saturday, players from South Alabama remained on the field while their marching band performed the school’s alma mater. Video that circulated online showed Hernandez run across the field by himself, without his own helmet on, and punched unsuspecting South Alabama cornerback Jamarrien Burt in the back of the head.

The move prompted a skirmish as South Alabama players came to Burt’s defense, and the teams had to be separated.

“We strongly condemn the actions of some of the student-athletes on the EMU football team in the ugly incident that took place following last night’s 68 Ventures Bowl,” Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said in a statement Sunday. “We are deeply upset and embarrassed by what happened.

“Their conduct does not reflect the great pride and high standards we place on the game and our program, and the expectations for good sportsmanship and exemplary conduct of student-athletes on and off the field. What happened was completely unacceptable. We apologize to the Eastern Michigan University community and to the South Alabama team and their fans.”

Wetherbee said Eastern Michigan is “committed to sharing information and video to fully understand all that occurred.” The school is also in contact with the Mid-American Conference.

As of Sunday, no punishment had been determined or announced for Hernandez, who is a graduate student according to the team’s roster online.

“While we are disappointed in the incident that occurred following our team’s victory,” South Alabama athletic director Joel Erdmann said in a statement, “we are grateful to the leadership at Eastern Michigan University for taking ownership of the incident and reaching out to our leadership here at South Alabama to apologize and ensure us they will fully investigate the matter. We do not believe this incident is in any way reflective of the values of Eastern Michigan University or its football program. We hope this situation will not take away from the fact that the Jaguars are 68 Ventures Bowl Champions.”


Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin secured a major transfer-portal target Sunday when former Texas A&M defensive lineman Walter Nolen committed to join the Rebels.

Nolen, who racked up 37 tackles — 8.5 tackles for loss — and four sacks in 12 games during the 2023 season, chose Ole Miss over Oregon, a school he visited earlier in December.

A 6-foot-4, 290-pound sophomore, Nolen played two seasons with the Aggies and was a big part of Texas A&M’s top-ranked 2022 recruiting class.

Nolen joins a strong haul of fellow transfers for Ole Miss, including pass rushers Tyler Baron from Tennessee and Princely Umanmielen from Florida.


Georgia replenished its running back room on Sunday, landing a commitment from transfer Trevor Etienne, On3 reported.

Etienne spent the past two seasons with Georgia’s rival in the Southeastern Conference — Florida — and has two years of eligibility remaining. In 2023, he led the Gators in rushing touchdowns (eight), yards per carry (5.7) and yards per game (68.4) with 753 total rushing yards in 11 games (one start).

Georgia will be losing seniors Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards and will count on Etienne as a veteran presence.

He ran for 719 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman. He also returned 17 kicks for 421 yards.

His older brother, Jacksonville Jaguars tailback Travis Etienne, played at Clemson.



Kenan Blackshear scored 30 points as Nevada nipped Georgia Tech 72-64 on Sunday to win the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

The Wolf Pack (12-1) continued their strong start to the season by riding Blackshear’s 11-of-14 shooting performance, not to mention his five rebounds and four assists. Jarod Lucas chipped in 20 points for Nevada, while Nick Davidson notched nine points and eight boards.

Baye Ndongo registered 20 points and eight rebounds to pace the Yellow Jackets (8-4) in both categories. Miles Kelly contributed 10 points but only shot 3 of 15 from the field and 1 of 9 from beyond the arc.

The Wolf Pack won despite shooting just 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) from 3-point range, although the Yellow Jackets were even worse from long distance at 6 of 26 (23.1 percent).

Neither team led by more than six during a first half that ended with Nevada ahead 36-30. Lucas had 10 points in the period, while Kelly and Ndongo paced Georgia Tech with eight apiece.

About five minutes into the second half, Lucas made a jumper and a 3-pointer to put Nevada ahead by seven, but Kyle Sturdivant responded with five consecutive points for Georgia Tech. Lucas’ 3-pointer helped push the lead back to seven, but the Yellow Jackets kept chipping away.

With just under 6 1/2 minutes left, Naithan George converted a layup to get Georgia Tech within a point. The teams remained close over the next several minutes, with Blackshear accounting for the bulk of the offense for Nevada. His turnaround jumper rolled in with 1:20 remaining to give the Wolf Pack a 66-62 lead.

George missed two free throws with 1:04 to go, and Blackshear responded by going 2-for-2 from the foul line on the other end with 37 seconds left. Ndongo’s two free throws with 27 seconds remaining got Georgia Tech within 68-64, but Blackshear and Lucas combined to make 4 of 6 free throws in the final 24 seconds to seal the win.


A superior defensive effort from TCU yielded a 65-51 victory for the Horned Frogs over Hawaii in the third-place game of the Diamond Head Classic on Sunday evening in Honolulu.

After allowing 80-plus points in each of its first two games at the tournament, TCU’s performance against Hawaii marked the fewest points the Horned Frogs (10-2) have allowed in a game this season.

Jameer Nelson Jr. led TCU’s balanced scoring effort with 13 points, including a 6-of-6 mark at the free throw line. Trevian Tennyson was the only other Horned Frog who scored in double figures, with 10 points.

Xavier Cork had nine points and eight rebounds and Micah Peavy added nine points and seven boards for TCU, which held a 34-20 advantage in points in the paint.

Noel Coleman paced Hawaii (8-4) with 19 points.

A pair of TCU 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the opening half gave the Horned Frogs a 6-1 lead, though Hawaii scored the next five points and tied the score with 14:56 remaining. The Rainbow Warriors claimed their only lead with 13:16 in the half, as Mor Seck’s layup made it 10-9.

TCU then took back the lead and maintained a narrow advantage before an 11-2 scoring run turned the momentum in the Horned Frogs’ favor. JaKobe Coles closed the spurt with his offensive rebound and putback at the 3:00 mark, as TCU went up 31-20.

The run coincided with a 3:27 field-goal drought from Hawaii, and TCU took a 36-27 lead into halftime.

TCU’s lead widened back to double digits on Peavy’s layup 1:12 into the second half, and for the first 15 minutes of the final period, the Horned Frogs led by 10 points or more.

TCU led by as many as 15 before Hawaii countered with a number of defensive stops and cut the deficit to 57-48 on Ryan Rapp’s drive to the lane.

But Nelson scored four straight points in the next 55 seconds for the Horned Frogs, and Tennyson kept the run going on a layup with 2:23 left. Hawaii head coach Eran Ganot called a timeout with the Rainbow Warriors trailing 63-48, but in Hawaii’s first possession out of the stoppage, TCU forced a shot-clock violation. Hawaii only scored once in the final four minutes.


Michigan State freshman guard Jeremy Fears Jr. was discharged from the hospital Sunday, one day after undergoing surgery for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, his father posted on social media.

Fears was involved in a shooting early Saturday morning in his hometown of Joliet, Ill.

The Joliet Police Department didn’t identify Fears, but confirmed officers responded to a shooting at 3:44 a.m. CT and that an 18-year-old male was shot and sustained a gunshot wound to his left thigh.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo said Fears underwent surgery.

“Jeremy underwent surgery (Saturday) morning and is resting comfortably,” Izzo said in a statement. “While there is much we still don’t know, my focus is on supporting Jeremy on his road to recovery.”

According to Joliet Police, the early-morning shooting also injured a 19-year-old female. She sustained a gunshot wound to her pelvis.

“A preliminary investigation of this shooting determined that both victims were inside the residence with others at which time it is believed that a male suspect armed with a handgun entered the residence through the front door and began firing inside the residence, striking both victims,” police said in a statement. “The suspect then ran from the residence. Both shooting victims were transported to Ascension St. Joseph Medical Center by the Joliet Fire Department in stable condition.”

Police said they were investigating a motive and the intended target of the shooting.

Fears is a four-star prospect who played at Joliet West High. He is averaging 3.5 points and 3.3 assists in 12 games for the Spartans.

Michigan State (7-5) next plays on Saturday at home against Indiana State.



Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid will miss Monday’s Christmas Day game at the Miami Heat due to a sprained right ankle.

The 76ers announced that Embiid did not travel with the team to Miami, but he has not yet been ruled out for the team’s following game Wednesday at the Orlando Magic.

Embiid was hurt during the first quarter of Philadelphia’s 121-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday, but he played through the sprain to put up 31 points and 10 rebounds.

Embiid was mum about the injury after the fact, saying he’d get the ankle checked out and “we’ll see” whether it would hinder him.

The injury subtracts one star player, the reigning league MVP, from the NBA’s nationally televised five-game slate on Christmas Day. The Sixers, who have won eight of nine, are facing a Miami team that’s made two of the past four NBA Finals and knocked Philadelphia out of the conference semifinals in 2022.

In each of his past 13 games, Embiid has tallied at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, a streak matched by Elgin Baylor and exceeded by Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.



Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sean Kuraly was released from a local hospital after he went down with an abdominal injury in Saturday’s 4-1 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team announced Sunday.

Kuraly left the game with 18 seconds remaining in the first period and did not return. He was hit by Leafs defenseman Jake McCabe behind the Toronto net and then took a puck to the chest area before skating off the ice while bent over.

Kuraly collapsed behind the Columbus bench, and the team announced during the game that Kuraly was taken to Grant Medical Center for further evaluation.

Kuraly was released from the hospital late Saturday night after all tests came back negative for a serious injury.

Kuraly, 30, has six goals and 11 points in 35 games played this season. In eight career NHL seasons beginning with the Boston Bruins (2017-21), the Ohio native has 55 career goals and 129 points in 453 games.


Anaheim Ducks rookie forward Leo Carlsson is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

Carlsson, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, sustained the injury after Calgary defenseman MacKenzie Weegar fell on his right side, cause his leg to buckle in a 3-0 loss to the Flames on Thursday.

“I’m glad nothing was really severely damaged, but I kind of wish we had him,” Ducks coach Greg Cronin said following his team’s 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.

Carlsson, who turns 19 on Tuesday, has recorded 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 23 games this season.



The New York Mets have agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Chad Smith on a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training, according to multiple media reports on Sunday.

Smith pitched in 10 games last season for the Oakland Athletics, compiling a 1-2 record and 6.59 ERA with seven walks, nine strikeouts and 15 hits allowed in 13 2/3 innings. He finished five games.

Smith, 28, was an 11th-round pick of the Miami Marlins in 2016 out of Ole Miss. The Marlins traded him to the Colorado Rockies in August 2020, and he made his MLB debut for the Rockies in May 2022, finishing the season 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA, 15 walks and 23 strikeouts in 18 innings over 15 games.

Colorado traded him to Oakland in December 2022, and the Athletics made him a free agent on Nov. 6.


The Toronto Blue Jays signed veteran right-hander Paolo Espino over the weekend, according to a report from MLB Network.

Sportsnet then reported

Sportsnet then reported late Saturday night that Espino will be joining the organization on a minor league deal.

Espino, who turns 37 on Jan. 10, has made 94 major league appearances (41 starts) across five seasons. He made three relief appearances for the Nationals in 2023, posting a 24.75 ERA without recording a decision.

Washington released Espino on Aug. 6.

For his major league career, Espino is 5-14 with a 5.01 ERA while spending time with the Milwaukee Brewers (2017), Texas Rangers (2017) and Nationals (2020-23).


The Seattle Mariners have agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with catcher Mitch Garver, multiple media outlets reported Sunday night.

Garver will have to pass a physical for the deal to become official, per the reports.

In 87 games with Texas last season, Garver hit .270 with 19 homers and 50 RBIs while helping the Rangers secure their first World Series championship. He hit just .105 during Texas’ postseason run but came up in the clutch in Game 5 of the Fall Classic, delivering a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh.

The Rangers went on to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0 in Game 5 to clinch the title.

Garver, 32, spent the past two seasons with Texas after five seasons with the Minnesota Twins (2017-21). He is a career .252 hitter with 82 home runs and 228 RBIs in 450 major league games.




ATLANTA – As the Colts digested their 29-10 Week 16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the visiting locker room at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they drew upon some words of wisdom dispensed by quarterback Gardner Minshew II.

The message: Opportunities like the one still ahead of the Colts, even in the wake of Sunday’s defeat, are not guaranteed in the NFL. The Colts are mostly in control of their playoff destiny (more on that later) with two games left in the 2023 regular season. A path to reaching the postseason for the first time since 2020 still very much exists, and the Colts are in position to earn their way in with home games against the Las Vegas Raiders and Houston Texans remaining.

“I think you start looking at opportunities like this and you start counting wins, you start doing schedule math and you look around, it’s like well, (Atlanta) lost to Carolina, well, we beat the Steelers,” Minshew said. “Well, you know what, you got to go earn it right now. If you take this lightly you might not end up with another one.

“Everybody thinks you got all this time and you’re gonna have all these chances to make playoff runs, and it doesn’t work like that. We have to take advantage when we got them. And I’m excited to see how we respond and bring it next week.”

The Colts on Sunday averaged 3.9 yards per play (their second-lowest average in 2023) and allowed 6.3 yards per play (third-highest).

The Falcons generated six explosive (10+ yard) runs and seven explosive (15+ yard) passes, as running back Bijan Robinson carved out 122 yards on 22 touches to pace the Atlanta offense. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was held to 43 yards on 18 carries (2.4 yards/attempt) while Minshew completed 20 of 37 passes for 201 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 58.5.

Atlanta ripped off 20 unanswered points after the Colts opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown drive. And after a Matt Gay 33-yard field goal got the Colts back within 10, the Falcons notched the final nine points of the game to earn a three-possession victory. The 10 points the Colts scored were tied for a season low.

“It wasn’t us,” head coach Shane Steichen said. “It wasn’t us, you know what I mean? You don’t want to see it. You got to stop the bleeding and again, that starts with myself going forward. So, we got to get that corrected.”

The Colts have been in this position before – just two weeks ago, they digested a 20-point loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and responded with a 30-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. But all that emphasizes, players said after the game, is how much variance there is in the NFL.

“It’s a week to week league,” Minshew said. “Wins don’t carry over and neither do losses. We gotta take it into next week and go earn a win next week.”

The Colts are, pending the 7-7 Denver Broncos’ Sunday night game against the New England Patriots, one of four 8-7 teams in the AFC with two weeks left, along with the Bengals, Steelers and Houston Texans. The tiebreakers are convoluted and really won’t matter until Week 18, but for now, the Colts have an advantage in a three- or four-way tie thanks to their 6-4 AFC record, which is the first tiebreaker used by the NFL if head-to-head is not applicable.

But the Colts don’t completely control their own destiny: If they win out and go 10-7, that would mean they would knock off the Texans, who would drop out of the group that could be tied for the AFC’s No. 7 seed. If the Steelers and Broncos lose a game and the Bengals win out, it’d leave the Colts and Bengals tied with 10-7 records – and Cincinnati would make the playoffs by virtue of their Week 14 win over the Colts.

The scoreboard watching can wait another week, though. As the Colts packed up to return to Indianapolis on Sunday, they did turning their focus inward – and also did so heeding Minshew’s advice.

“Don’t take it for granted,” linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “Being in a situation in December where you could fight for a playoff spot and play meaningful football, don’t take it for granted. Don’t feel like you beat a team on paper because y’all supposed to be better than them. It’s hard to win in this league.

“And unfortunately today was a lesson, but we still got two games left.”


1. The AFC South is still up for grabs.

The Colts, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars each had an opportunity to take control of the AFC South in Week 16 – and all three teams suffered multi-possession defeats:

Falcons 29, Colts 10

Browns 36, Texans 22

Buccaneers 30, Jaguars 12

The Colts are very much still alive in the AFC South, and Week 18 could set up for some epic scoreboard watching: If all three teams are still tied, a Jaguars loss to the Titans would mean the winner of the Colts-Texans game would win the division.

We’ll keep an eye this week on the status of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who exited Jacksonville’s loss to the Buccaneers with a shoulder injury. Lawrence previously sustained an ankle injury and a concussion that limited him in practices this month, but he’s never missed a game in three seasons as a pro.

2. The Colts’ offense stalled after a strong start.

The Colts opened the game with a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive on which wide receiver Alec Pierce, tight end Will Mallory and running back Jonathan Taylor all came up with key plays. Pierce drew a pass interference flag in the end zone on a third-and-seven, and Taylor punched in a touchdown a few plays later.

“You expect to go out there and do that,” quarterback Gardner Minshew II said. “I think that’s what we’re capable of. It’s always just a battle of consistency — I think we’ve gotta find ways to pull ourselves out of it when it’s going down.”

Over the Colts’ next nine possessions, they scored three points and gained 148 yards on 45 plays (3.3 yards/play). And Minshew was sacked six times while Taylor was held to 1.8 yards per carry.

“Credit to the Falcons,” head coach Shane Steichen said. “They did a good job up front with their defensive line in some of the things they were doing. Again, that starts with myself. I have to be better for the guys going forward.”

3. Michael Pittman Jr.’s absence was felt, but the Colts didn’t view it as an excuse.

The Colts on Saturday downgraded Pittman from questionable to out after Steichen said his concussion symptoms relapsed. Pittman is back in the NFL concussion protocol and will have to clear it to play on New Year’s Eve against the Las Vegas Raiders.

With Pittman out, the Colts leaned on D.J. Montgomery to replace him in their lineup, with receivers and tight ends across the offense being counted on to make plays in place of the team’s 1,000-yard receiver. Per Pro Football Focus, the Colts had a season-high six dropped passes on Sunday.

“We adjusted when we heard (Pittman was out), and we went from there,” Steichen said. “We had full confidence in the guys who were out there, and we just didn’t get it done.”

The Colts’ confidence in guys like Montgomery, Pierce and Josh Downs is still high, with those players all delivering in key moments at times this season.

“Pitt’s been so good for us this year, and we’ll continue to be excited to get him back,” Minshew said. “But it’s next man up — I have a lot of confidence in this guys that are in there, A.P., D.J., J.D. We just gotta figure it out and find a way.”

4. The Falcons’ plan on to attack the Colts’ defense worked.

The Colts allowed a season-high 18 plays that gained 10 or more yards, and 17 of the Falcons’ 23 first downs came on first or second down. While Atlanta went five of 13 on third down, one of those five conversions came on a third-and-14 just after the Colts kicked a field goal to bring the score to 20-10 in the third quarter.

Running back Bijan Robinson gained 122 yards on 20 touches, and quarterback Taylor Heinicke completed 23 of 33 passes (69.7 percent) for 229 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 99.2. Heinicke opened the Falcons’ scoring with a 24-yard touchdown to tight end Kyle Pitts, and running back Tyler Allgeier ripped off a 31-yard touchdown to begin the second half.

Robinson forced 11 missed tackles on his 22 touches, per Pro Football Focus, a season high for the top-10 pick from Texas. The Falcons consistently were able to get Robinson in space, allowing him to

“He’s an exceptional athlete. I gotta give him credit — I talked to him after the game and told him how much I respect him,” linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “He’s a good player, he’s capable of making people miss in space, start and stop — he’s a hell of a player. I think we could’ve done a better job of containing him, honestly, but he made plays and that’s what good players do.”

The Colts’ defense, too, wasn’t able to generate the kind of game-wrecking plays they had in previous weeks. Entering Week 16, the Colts were third in the NFL in both sacks and takeaways; they had just one sack and saw their takeaway streak end at 19 games.

“They had a great plan to slow us down,” defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. “Obviously they’re a great run team, so you gotta respect the run, the outside zone, so they married a lot of their play actions with outside zone and they even switched up with some max protections or some full slide protections to get us out of our flow, and also get the ball out of Heinicke’s hand quick. The times he did hold it, it was max protection, or there were a couple times in two minute where we gotta take advantage of our opportunities when we get one-on-one. There were times where he did hold it for a quick second, he had that hitch, he held it and we weren’t there. Those opportunities you gotta be there to make the play.”


Key Week 16 results:

Falcons 29, Colts 10: No. 7 seed Colts fall to 8-7

Buccaneers 30, Jaguars 12: AFC South-leading Jaguars fall to 8-7

Browns 36, Texans 22: No. 5 Browns improve to 10-5, No. 8 seed Texans fall to 8-7

Bills 24, Chargers 22: No. 6 seed Bills improve to 9-6

Steelers 34, Bengals 11: No. 9 seed Steelers improve to 8-7, No. 10 seed Bengals improve fall to 8-7

AFC Standings (*denotes division leader; Broncos and Patriots play Sunday night; Ravens, Chiefs, Raiders play on Monday)

Baltimore Ravens (11-3)*

Miami Dolphins (11-4)*

Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)*

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7)*

Cleveland Browns (10-5)

Buffalo Bills (9-6)

Indianapolis Colts (8-7)

Houston Texans (8-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)

Cincinnati Bengals (8-7)

Denver Broncos (7-8)

Las Vegas Raiders (6-8)

Los Angeles Chargers (5-10)

Tennessee Titans (5-10)

New York Jets (6-9)

New England Patriots (4-11)

Current Tiebreakers

With more than two teams tied for the No. 7 seed, and no team having a head-to-head sweep over the teams with the same record, the Colts own the AFC No. 7 seed thanks to their 6-4 conference record. However, both the Colts and Texans own a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers, which is why Pittsburgh – even at 6-5 in the AFC, a half-game better than the 5-5 Texans, are behind Houston in the standings.

The tiebreakers don’t totally matter right now, though, because the Colts don’t control their own destiny even if they win out. There’s only one circumstance where the Colts go 10-7 and don’t make the playoffs:

The Jaguars go 2-0

The Bills go 2-0

The Browns go at least 1-1

The Steelers and Broncos lose at least one game

The Bengals go 2-0

In this scenario, the Colts and Bengals are the only two teams with 10-7 records and are behind the Browns and Bills in the AFC playoff standings. Because the Bengals own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts, they would get the AFC No. 7 seed, and the Colts would not make the playoffs.

Note: This post will be updated after the Broncos-Patriots game, but the Colts would remain the AFC No. 7 seed regardless of the outcome of that game.

Remaining Schedules (key head-to-head games in bold)

Colts (8-7):

Week 17: vs. Raiders (6-8)

Week 18: vs. Texans (8-7)

Jaguars (8-7):

Week 17: vs. Panthers (2-13)

Week 18: at Titans (5-10)

Browns (10-5):

Week 17: vs. Jets (6-9)

Week 18: at Bengals (8-7)

Bills (9-6):

Week 17: vs. Patriots (3-11)

Week 18: at Dolphins (10-4)

Texans (8-7):

Week 17: vs. Titans (5-10)

Week 18: at Colts (8-7)

Steelers (8-7):

Week 17: at Seahawks (8-7)

Week 18: at Ravens (11-3)

Bengals (8-7):

Week 17: at Chiefs (9-5)

Week 18: vs. Browns (10-5)

Broncos (7-8):

Week 17: vs. Chargers (5-10)

Week 18: at Raiders (6-8)
























HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS:                                                                                                                                                                            









December 25, 1894 – San Francisco, California – The first intersectional college football game was played as the University of Chicago played Stanford University. The game was most likely established between the two coaches who were together at Yale University over a decade earlier. Stanford’s coach was the Father of Football Walter Camp who used to coach the University of Chicago’s Head Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg as shared by SwannGalleries website.  I also highly recommend that you get a copy of Jennifer Taylor Hall’s excellent book “Amos Alonzo Stagg: College Football’s Man in Motion” that has some great insight on this story in even greater detail. Stagg and the Maroons traveled well and put it to the Cardinal 24-4. Stay tuned for the December 29 rematch though in a few days right here on the Pigskin Dispatch Football History Headlines for December 29.

December 25, 1905 – Wichita, Kansas – An experimental game trying never before used rules as Fairmont entertained Washburn College. After the legendary October 9, 1905 conference of President Teddy Roosevelt meeting with a braintrust of college legends such as Walter Camp, Arthur T. Hildebrand, and William Reid among others to reform football after over 18 deaths occurred as a result of action on the field during the 1905 season. According to the story on the subject several rule changes, including 10 yards for a first down and legalizing the forward pass, had long been talked about but not acted upon but now with Roosevelt’s mandate these were among the innovations needed to keep the game going by making it safer for players. Allegedly this Christmas Day game in Wichita was the laboratory to see what these revisions could do towards safety. The details are a bit murky per the article but the first forward pass may have occurred in this contest. It has long been thought that Paul Veeder of Yale to Bob Forbes in 1906 or Louis quarterback Bradbury Robinson completed the first legal pass on September 5, 1906 when he threw 20 yards to Jack Schneider  as the first completions of a pass but that might not be the case. The Kansas article goes on to say that though the game Christmas Day game in Kansas was documented by a December 26, 1905, Wichita Daily Eagle write up it didn’t really account for who or what team threw the pass first and it may not have made the “official” record list because after all the game was an experimental exhibition. Even so the fact that it was played with the new rules is monumental to Gridiron history! Some 45 years after the game, Bliss Isely who was one of the Fairmount College players in that game wrote in his 1956 article for “This Week: The National Sunday Magazine,” Bliss Isely wrote that Roosevelt didn’t want to wait for the 1906 season and that he wanted them tried out as soon as possible. The article goes on to say Isley wrote “when no big-league teams accepted the challenge,” Fairmount team manager and left guard Roy Kirk booked a game with Washburn and wired Roosevelt, telling the President that the game would be played under experimental rules. As to who tossed the ball forward legally first Mr. Isley may have the answer to that too as he said in a description of the play was Davis running right, avoiding a tackle and throwing a two-hand underhand pass to Solter, who had broken right toward the sideline. “Solter grabbed it easily and crashed ahead for a first down,” Postscript : Jan. 12, 1906, in New York, sweeping rules changes were approved. Many were the same ones used in the Washburn-Fairmount game and the rest is history!

December 25, 1971 – The Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs played in a very memorable game on Christmas Day in the AFC Divisional contest. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame it ended up being the longest NFL game ever as it went to 2 overtime sessions before Miami Kicker Garo Yepremian booted a 37 yarder to advance the Dolphins in a 27-24 thriller! Kansas City’s Ed Podolak  performed an amazing 350 yards of all-purpose yardage in the losing effort.

December 25, 1989 – Chris Doleman registered 3 sacks of the Bengals quarterback and Kicker Rich Karlis nailed five first half field goals to propel the Minnesota Vikings to a 29-21 victory over Cincinnati to secure the NFC Central Division and shut the door on the Bengals playoff chances per the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

December 25, 1993 – The final weekend of the season saw Houston Oilers matched up against the San Francisco 49ers. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame these two offenses were the top scoring units in the League on the season but it was the defenses that stood up tall that day as the Oilers escaped with a 10-7 victory!

December 25, 2004 – KC return specialist Dante Hall set the table with a 49 yard kickoff return so that Kicker Lawrence Tynes could knock through the game winning FG with 22 seconds left to lift the Chiefs to a 31-30 win over the Raiders. Tynes had missed two earlier kicks in the game per the story on Pro Football Hall of Fame.

December 25, 2002 – Las Vegas, Nevada – History was made at the Las Vegas Bowl game between New Mexico and UCLA per the website story. Katie Hnida of the Lobos became the first woman to play in a Division I-A bowl game, kicking an extra point attempt that was blocked. Ms. Hnida the next season on August 30, 2003 became the first young lady to score at the Division I-A level.

December 25, 2006 – The New York Jets win 13-10 over the Miami Dolphins during a torrential rain storm. Fourth quarter touchdowns by both teams during a break in the weather provided most of the scoring and a 30 yard field goal by Kicker Mike Nugent with 10 ticks of the clock remaining sealed the win for the Jets as told by an article on the Pro Football Hall of Fame site.

December 25, 2010 – According to the website Arizona Cardinals defensive playmakers Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler each had a pick six to lead the Cards to a 27-26 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

December 25, 2011 – Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers tosses 5 touchdown passes to prevent the Chicago Bears to earn a Wildcard spot in the playoffs in a Packers 35-21 victory per a Pro Football HOF story.

December 25, 2016 – The AFC North game that would determine the winner of the Division the Baltimore Ravens looked pretty good as they held a lead late in the fourth quarter. But according to an archived Pro Football Hall of Fame site story the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown were not done yet as with seconds left, Brown caught a pass at the Ravens one. It looked like he would be short of the goal line as Safety Eric Weddle and Linebacker C.J. Mosely was in contact with the receiver almost immediately. Somehow number 84 for the Steelers ducked and stretched to get the ball to briefly cross the stripe for the score to lift Pittsburgh to a 31-27 victory over their rivals.

Hall of Fame Birthdays for December 25

December 25, 1941 – Muenster, Texas – Texas Tech’s wide receiver David Parks was born. The National Football Foundation states that Parks was the first Red Raiders to reach the acclaim of the Associated Press All-America team as he rewrote almost every Texas Tech receiving record in his collegiate career. Some of these items were a 98 pass play, 1090 career receiving yards and 80 career receptions. The College Football Hall of Fame welcomed David Parks into their membership in 2008.

December 25, 1943 – Houston, Texas – Howard Twilley the great wide receiver from the University of Tulsa celebrated his birth. tells how  Twilley led the nation in 1964 and 1965 in receiving yardage, touchdowns and the amount of catches. These numbers earned him All-America status for both seasons as well as being voted as the runner up in theHeisman voting in 1965.  The NFF voters selected Howard Twilley to enter into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992.

December 25, 1945 – Foley, Alabama – The Crimson Tide’s legendary quarterback Ken Stabler was born. Ken performed one of the most memorable plays in Alabama football history when he did his famous “Run in the Mud” play against Auburn in the 1967 Iron Bowl. The “Snake” as he was called was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 1968 NFL Draft and played 15 seasons in the League per the Pro Football HOF bio on him. Besides the Raiders, Ken spent time on the New Orleans Saints and Houston Oilers rosters too. He is best known as the leader of the Silver and Black offenses of the 1970’s though including Super Bowl XI where the Raiders took apart the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 on timely passing by Stabler who went 12 of 19 on the day with 180 yards to keep the Purple People Eaters Defense on their heels. For his career Stabler had a 0.661 winning percentage as a starter throwing 194 TD passes for well over 27,000 career yards and he even led his team to five straight Conference Championship Games. The Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrined Ken Stabler in 2016. 

December 25, 1946 – Stow, Ohio – Larry Csonka the tough running back from Syracuse was born. According to the NFF website, Csonka claimed he never lifted traditional gym weights to get in shape but garnered his physical fitness by working on the family farm. Zonk was in the top twenty of the nation’s leading rushers in three straight years from 1965 through 1967 and in ‘67 he earned a unanimous All-America status. In fact Csonka broke many Orange records by great rushers like Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little and Jim Nance. Larry pulverized defensive lines registering 14 collegiate 100 yard games in his career with a 4.9 yard average carry. The College Football Hall of Fame welcomed hardnosed runner Larry Csonka into their membership in 1989. In eleven NFL seasons had over 8000 yards rushing and a 4.3 yard average per carry. Larry Csonka ran his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. After school Larry was the first pick in the 1968 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He played in 5 Pro Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl VIII. He played a total of 12 seasons of professional football with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants in the NFL and the 1975 season in the WFL.


9 – 14 – 1 – 7 – 11 – 5 – 10 – 22 – 41

December 25, 1862 –

December 25, 1862 – 40,000 watch Union army men play baseball at Hilton Head, South Carolina

December 25, 1888 – First indoor baseball game played at fairgrounds in Philadelphia; 2,000 watch the Uptowners beat the Downtowners, 6-1

December 25, 1956 – Detroit’s future Hockey Hall of Fame right wing Number 9, Gordie Howe racked up a Christmas hat-trick and 3 assists in Red Wings’ 8-1 win over NY Rangers; most points he scores in a single game in entire 26-year NHL career

December 25, 1973 – Ballon d’Or: Ajax forward Number 14, Johan Cruyff wins his second award for best European football player ahead of Juventus goalkeeper Number 1, Dino Zoff and Bayern Munich striker Number 9, Gerd Müller

December 25, 1979 – Ballon d’Or: Hamburg’s English forward Number 7, Kevin Keegan won his 2nd consecutive trophy as best football player in Europe; beats Bayern Munich forward Number 11, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Ajax sweeper Number 5, Ruud Krol

December 25, 1984 – Ballon d’Or: Juventus’ French midfielder Number 10, Michel Platini is named Europe’s best football player for the 2nd consecutive time; beats Bordeaux midfielder Number 14, Jean Tigana and Verona striker Number 10, Preben Elkjær

December 25, 1990 – Ballon d’Or: Inter’s German sweeper Number 10, Lothar Matthäus is named best football player in Europe ahead of Juventus striker Number 9, Salvatore Schillaci and Inter defender Number 3, Andreas Brehme

December 25, 1995 – Dallas Cowboys running back Number 22, Emmitt Smith scored an NFL record 25th touchdown of the season in 37-13 win against Arizona Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe AZ

December 25, 2020 – New Orleans running back Number 41, Alvin Kamara equaled legendar runner Number 11, Ernie Nevers 1929 NFL record of 6 touchdowns in a match in the Saints’ 52-33 win over the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome



12 p.m.

ESPN — Milwaukee at New York

2:30 p.m.

ABC — Golden State at Denver

ESPN — Golden State at Denver

5 p.m.

ABC — Boston at LA Lakers

ESPN — Boston at LA Lakers

8 p.m.

ESPN — Philadelphia at Miami

10:30 p.m.

ESPN — Dallas at Phoenix


1 p.m.

CBS — Las Vegas at Kansas City

NICKELODEON — Las Vegas at Kansas City (Nickelodeon’s NFL Nickmas Game)

4:30 p.m.

FOX — NY Giants at Philadelphia

8:15 p.m. ABC — Baltimore at San Francisco