TOP 25 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
TOP 25 WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, DEC. 23
SATURDAY, DEC. 24
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE VS. SAN DIEGO STATE — HAWAI’I BOWL (HONOLULU, HAWAI’I) | 8 P.M. | ESPN
MONDAY, DEC. 26
BOWLING GREEN VS. NEW MEXICO STATE — QUICK LANE BOWL (DETROIT) | 2:30 P.M. | ESPN
TUESDAY, DEC. 27
BUFFALO VS. GEORGIA SOUTHERN — CAMELLIA BOWL (MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN
OKLAHOMA STATE VS. WISCONSIN — GUARANTEED RATE BOWL (PHOENIX) | 10:15 P.M. | ESPN
MEMPHIS VS. UTAH STATE — FIRST RESPONDER BOWL (DALLAS) | ESPN
COASTAL CAROLINA VS. EAST CAROLINA — BIRMINGHAM BOWL (BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA) | ESPN
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28
DUKE VS. UCF — MILITARY BOWL (ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND) | 2 P.M. | ESPN
ARKANSAS VS. KANSAS — LIBERTY BOWL (MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE) | 5:30 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 15 OREGON VS. NORTH CAROLINA — HOLIDAY BOWL (SAN DIEGO) | 8 P.M.
TEXAS TECH VS. OLE MISS — TEXAS BOWL (HOUSTON) | 9 P.M. | ESPN
THURSDAY, DEC. 29
MINNESOTA VS. SYRACUSE — PINSTRIPE BOWL (BRONX, NEW YORK) | 2 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 13 FLORIDA STATE VS. OKLAHOMA — CHEEZ-IT BOWL (ORLANDO, FLORIDA) | 5:30 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 12 WASHINGTON VS. NO. 20 TEXAS — ALAMO BOWL (SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS) | 9 P.M. | ESPN
FRIDAY, DEC. 30
NO. 23 NC STATE VS. MARYLAND — DUKE’S MAYO BOWL (CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 18 UCLA VS. PITT — SUN BOWL (EL PASO, TEXAS) | 2 P.M. | CBS
NO. 19 SOUTH CAROLINA VS. NO. 21 NOTRE DAME — GATOR BOWL (JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA) | 3:30 P.M. | ESPN
OHIO VS. WYOMING — ARIZONA BOWL (TUCSON, ARIZONA) | 4:30 P.M.| BARSTOOL
NO. 6 TENNESSEE VS. NO. 7 CLEMSON — ORANGE BOWL (MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA) | 8 P.M. | ESPN
SATURDAY, DEC. 31
IOWA VS. KENTUCKY — MUSIC CITY BOWL (NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE) | 12 P.M. | ABC
NO. 5 ALABAMA VS. NO. 9 KANSAS STATE — SUGAR BOWL (NEW ORLEANS) | 12 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 2 MICHIGAN VS. NO. 3 TCU (CFP SEMIFINAL) — FIESTA BOWL (GLENDALE, ARIZONA) | 4 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 1 GEORGIA VS. NO. 4 OHIO STATE (CFP SEMIFINAL) — PEACH BOWL (ATLANTA) | 8 P.M. | ESPN
MONDAY, JAN. 2
NO. 22 MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. ILLINOIS — RELIAQUEST BOWL (TAMPA, FLORIDA) | 12 P.M. | ESPN2
NO. 17 LSU VS. PURDUE — CITRUS BOWL (ORLANDO, FLORIDA) | 1 P.M. | ABC
NO. 10 USC VS. NO. 16 TULANE — COTTON BOWL (ARLINGTON, TEXAS) | 1 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 8 UTAH VS. NO. 11 PENN STATE — ROSE BOWL (PASADENA, CALIFORNIA) | 5 P.M. | ESPN
SUNDAY, JAN. 8
FCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (FRISCO, TEXAS) | 2 P.M. | ABC
MONDAY, JAN. 9
CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA) | ESPN
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2022
ATLANTA FALCONS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (SAT) 1:00P (ET) 1:00P FOX
DETROIT LIONS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS (SAT) 1:00P (ET) 1:00P FOX
BUFFALO BILLS AT CHICAGO BEARS (SAT) 12:00P (CT) 1:00P CBS
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (SAT) 1:00P (ET) 1:00P CBS
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (SAT) 12:00P (CT) 1:00P FOX
NEW YORK GIANTS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (SAT) 12:00P (CT) 1:00P FOX
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (SAT) 1:00P (ET) 1:00P CBS
HOUSTON TEXANS AT TENNESSEE TITANS (SAT) 12:00P (CT) 1:00P CBS
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (SAT) 1:05P (PT) 4:05P CBS
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT DALLAS COWBOYS (SAT) 3:25P (CT) 4:25P FOX
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (SAT) 8:15P (ET) 8:15P NFLN
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2022
GREEN BAY PACKERS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS 1:00P (ET) 1:00P FOX
DENVER BRONCOS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS 1:30P (PT) 4:30P CBS / NICKELODEON
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS 6:20P (MT) 8:20P NBC
MONDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2022
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (MON) 8:15P (ET) 8:15P ESPN
2022 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 16
Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West division title
Buffalo Bills – playoff berth
BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5)
Week 16 – vs. Atlanta (5-9), Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
Week 17 – vs. Pittsburgh (6-8)
Week 18 – at Cincinnati (10-4)
Baltimore clinches playoff berth with:
- BAL win + MIA loss or tie + NE loss or tie OR
- BAL win + MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie OR
- BAL win + NE loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie OR
- BAL tie + NE loss + NYJ loss OR
- BAL tie + NE loss + MIA loss + LAC win OR
- BAL tie + NE loss + MIA loss + NYJ tie OR
- BAL tie + NE loss + NYJ tie + LAC win OR
- BAL tie + NE tie + NYJ loss + MIA loss OR
- BAL tie + NE tie + NYJ tie + MIA loss + LAC win OR
- NE loss + NYJ loss + CLE loss or tie + LV loss or tie + TEN loss or tie + LAC win
BUFFALO BILLS (11-3)
Week 16 – at Chicago (3-11), Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS
Week 17 – at Cincinnati (10-4)
Week 18 – vs. New England (7-7)
Buffalo clinches AFC East division title with:
- BUF win or tie OR
- MIA loss or tie
CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-4)
Week 16 – at New England (7-7), Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS
Week 17 – vs. Buffalo (11-3)
Week 18 – vs. Baltimore (9-5)
Cincinnati clinches playoff berth with:
- CIN win or tie OR
- NYJ loss or tie
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (8-6)
Week 16 – at Indianapolis (4-9-1), Monday, 8:15 PM ET, ESPN
Week 17 – vs. L.A. Rams (4-10)
Week 18 – at Denver (4-10)
L.A. Chargers clinch playoff berth with:
- LAC win + LV loss or tie + NE loss + NYJ loss OR
- LAC win + LV loss or tie + NE loss + NYJ tie + MIA loss OR
- LAC win + LV loss or tie + NE tie + NYJ loss + MIA loss
Minnesota Vikings – NFC North division title
San Francisco 49ers – NFC West division title
Dallas Cowboys – playoff berth
Philadelphia Eagles – playoff berth
NEW YORK GIANTS (8-5-1)
Week 16 – at Minnesota (11-3), Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
Week 17 – vs. Indianapolis (4-9-1)
Week 18 – at Philadelphia (13-1)
N.Y. Giants clinch playoff berth with:
- NYG win + WAS loss + DET loss OR
- NYG win + WAS loss + SEA loss OR
- NYG win + DET loss + SEA loss
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-1)
Week 16 – at Dallas (10-4), Saturday, 4:25 PM ET, FOX
Week 17 – vs. New Orleans (5-9)
Week 18 – vs. N.Y. Giants (8-5-1)
Philadelphia clinches NFC East division title with:
- PHI win or tie
Philadelphia clinches homefield advantage and NFC’s lone first-round bye with:
- PHI win OR
- PHI tie + MIN loss or tie
TOP NATIONAL HEADLINES:
NFL GAME CAPSULES
ATLANTA FALCONS (5-9) @ BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Ravens lead all-time series, 4-2
STREAKS Ravens have won past 2
LAST GAME 12/2/18: Ravens 26 at Falcons 16
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/19/14: Ravens 29, Falcons 7
LAST WEEK L 21-18 at New Orleans
COACH VS. OPP. Arthur Smith: 0-0
PTS. FOR 21.9
PASSING Desmond Ridder (R): 13-26-97-0-0-59.3
RUSHING Tyler Allgeier (R): 148-743-5.0-2
RECEIVING Drake London (R): 54-603-11.2-4
PTS. AGAINST 23.8
SACKS Grady Jarrett: 6
INTs Many tied: 2
TAKE/GIVE -2 (16/18)
PUNTING (NET) Bradley Pinion: 45.9 (41.2)
KICKING Younghoe Koo: 100 (28/30 PAT; 24/29 FG)
QB DESMOND RIDDER (rookie) passed for 97 yards in 1st career start last week. • RB CORDARRELLE PATTERSON rushed for 52 yards & TD in Week 15. Aims for his 5th in row with 50+ rush yards. Had 5 catches for 141 yards & rec. TD in his only career game at Bal. (12/8/13 w/ Min.). • RB TYLER ALLGEIER (rookie) rushed for career-high 139 yards & had 2nd rush TD of season last week, his 1st-career game with 100+ rush yards. Ranks 2nd among rookies with 743 rush yards. • WR DRAKE LONDON (rookie) led team with 7 receptions & 70 rec. yards last week. Ranks 3rd among rookies with 54 receptions & 4th with 603 rec. yards. • WR OLAMIDE ZACCHEAUS has career highs in receptions (32) & rec. yards (478) this season. • LB RASHAAN EVANS led team with 10 tackles & had 2nd sack of season in Week 15. Ranks 3rd in NFL with career-high 144 tackles. Has 10 games with 10+ tackles in 2022, most in NFL. Aims for his 5th in row on road & 7th in row overall with 10+ tackles. • DL GRADY JARRETT had TFL & 0.5 sacks last week. Leads team with 6 sacks in 2022, his 3rd-career season with 6+ sacks. Had sack & 2 FF in last meeting. • LB MYKAL WALKER has career-high 104 tackles in 2022, his 1st-career season with 100+ tackles. Has 8+ tackles in 6 of his past 7. • LB LORENZO CARTER had 0.5 sacks & 2nd-career FR in Weeek 15. • S RICHIE GRANT ranks 3rd among NFC DBs with career-high 96 tackles & needs 4 tackles for 1st-career 100+ tackle season. • S JAYLINN HAWKINS had 2 PD last week. Aims for his 4th in row with 5+ tackles.
LAST WEEK L 13=3 at Cleveland
COACH VS. OPP. John Harbaugh: 2-1
PTS. FOR 21.7
PASSING Lamar Jackson: 203-326-2,242-17-7-91.1
RUSHING Lamar Jackson (QB): 112-764-6.8-3
RECEIVING Mark Andrews (TE): 61-702-11.5-5
PTS. AGAINST 18.8
SACKS Justin Houston: 9
INTs Marlon Humphrey: 4
TAKE/GIVE +7 (23/16)
PUNTING (NET) Jordan Stout (R): 46.5 (41.1)
KICKING Justin Tucker: 116 (29/30 PAT; 29/34 FG)
QB LAMAR JACKSON totaled 200 yards (125 pass, 75 rush) & had rush TD in last meeting. Is 5-0 with 6 TDs (4 pass, 2 rush) vs. INT in 5 career starts vs. NFC South. Ranks 2nd among QBs with 764 rush yards in 2022, his 4th-straight season with 750+ rush yards. • QB TYLER HUNTLEY has 50+ rush yards in each of 3 career home starts. • RB J.K. DOBBINS rushed for season-high 125 yards last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 120+ rush yards. Has rush TD in 5 of his past 6 at home. • RB GUS EDWARDS has 55+ rush yards in 5 of his 6 games this season. Rushed for 82 yards in last meeting. • TE MARK ANDREWS aims for his 3rd in row at home with 50+ rec. yards. Ranks 3rd among TEs with 702 rec. yards in 2022, his 4th-straight season with 700+ rec. yards. • WR DEMARCUS ROBINSON aims for 4th in row with 5+ catches. Had rec. TD in his last game vs. Atl. (12/27/20 w/ KC). Needs 6 catches for 1st-career 50-catch season. • LB ROQUAN SMITH led team with 11 tackles & had TFL last week. Has 5+ tackles in all 14 games this season & aims for 4th in row with TFL. Had FF & PD in only career game vs. Atl. (9/27/20 w/ Chi.). Ranks tied-6th in NFL with 130 tackles in 2022. • LB JUSTIN HOUSTON has 0.5+ sacks in 3 of his 4 home games this season. Has sack in 2 of 3 career games vs. Atl. • LB PATRICK QUEEN aims for his 4th in row at home with 9+ tackles & TFL. • CB MARLON HUMPHREY had 6 tackles & PD in Week 15. Aims for 5th in row with 6+ tackles. Had 2 PD in last meeting. • S KYLE HAMILTON (rookie) had season-high 7 tackles & 2 TFL with PD & sack last week.
DETROIT LIONS (7-7) @ CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-9)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Panthers lead all-time series, 7-3
STREAKS Panthers have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME 11/22/20: Lions 0 at Panthers 20
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/22/20
LAST WEEK W 20-17 at New York Jets
COACH VS. OPP. Dan Campbell: 0-0
PTS. FOR 26.4
PASSING Jared Goff: 313-482-3,604-23-7-97.2
RUSHING Jamaal Williams: 217-839-3.9-14
RECEIVING Amon-Ra St. Brown: 89-974-10.9-6
PTS. AGAINST 26.0
SACKS Aidan Hutchinson (R): 7
INTs Kerby Joseph (R): 3
TAKE/GIVE +4 (18/14)
PUNTING (NET) Jack Fox: 48.3 (40.7)
KICKING Michael Badgley: 69 (24/24 PAT; 15/18 FG)
QB JARED GOFF passed for 252 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 88.9 rating last week. Aims for his 5th in row with TD pass vs. 0 INTs. Needs 2 TD passes for 3rd-career season with 25+ TD passes. Has 25,020 pass yards in 97 career games & tied HOFers Peyton Manning & Kurt Warner for 3rd-fastest player to reach 25,000 pass yards in NFL history. • RB JAMAAL WILLIAMS leads NFL with career-high 14 rush TDs in 2022. Has 4 rush TDs in his past 3 on road & has 50+ scrimmage yards in 5 of his 6 road games in 2022. • RB D’ANDRE SWIFT had 5 catches & 75 scrimmage yards (52 rush, 23 rec.) last week. Has rush TD in 2 of his past 3 on road. • WR AMON-RA ST. BROWN had 7 receptions for 76 yards last week. Has career-high 974 rec. yards in 2022. Is 1 of 4 (Chris Godwin, Tyreek Hill & Justin Jefferson) with 10+ games (10) of 6+ catches this season. Aims for his 7th in row with 6+ catches & 65+ rec. yards. • WR KALIF RAYMOND had 5 catches for 53 yards & had 1st-career PR TD last week. • TE BROCK WRIGHT had GW 51-yard rec. TD in Week 15, his 4th-career TD catch. • DL AIDAN HUTCHINSON leads all rookies with 7 sacks. • LB JAMES HOUSTON became 3rd rookie since 1982 (Santana Dotson & Terrell Suggs) with sack in each of his 1st 4 career games & 2nd rookie since 2000 (Elvis Dumervil) with 5+ sacks in his 1st 4 career games. • DL ROMEO OKWARA had 3rd-career game with 2 sacks in Week 15. • S KERBY JOSEPH is only rookie with 3+ INTs (3), 2+ FFs (2) & FR (1). • S DESHON ELLIOTT has career-high 90 tackles in 2022 & has 5+ tackles in 12 of his 13 games this season. Aims for his 6th in row with 6+ tackles.
LAST WEEK: L 24-16 vs. Pittsburgh
COACH VS. OPP. Steve Wilks: 0-1
PTS. FOR 19.7
PASSING Sam Darnold: 39-66-509-3-0-98.6
RUSHING D’Onta Foreman: 157-646-4.1-4
RECEIVING DJ Moore: 51-678-13.3-5
PTS. AGAINST 22.4
SACKS Brian Burns: 10.5
INTs Jaycee Horn: 3
TAKE/GIVE -2 (14/16)
PUNTING (NET) Johnny Hekker: 48.9 (44.3)
KICKING Eddy Pineiro: 106 (22/24 PAT; 28/30 FG)
QB SAM DARNOLD passed for 225 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 108.1 rating in Week 15. Has 100+ rating in 2 of his 3 starts this season & aims for his 4th in row with TD pass vs. 0 INTs. Completed 16 of 21 atts. (76.2 pct.) for 198 yards & 2 TDs vs. INT for 116.8 rating in his only career start vs. Det. (9/10/18 w/ NYJ). • RB D’ONTA FOREMAN has career highs in rush yards (646) & rush TDs (4) in 2022. Has 110+ rush yards in 3 of his past 4 at home. Has 4 games with 100+ rush yards since Week 7, most in NFC. • RB CHUBA HUBBARD had 67 scrimmage yards (career-high 57 rec., 10 rush) in Week 15. Aims for his 4th in row with 65+ scrimmage yards. • WR DJ MOORE led team with 5 catches for 73 yards & had career-high 5th rec. TD of season last week. Has TD catch in 3 of his past 4 at home & aims for his 3rd in row at home with rec. TD. Has 51 catches in 2022, his 5th-straight 50-catch season since entering NFL in 2018. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Det. with 7+ catches & 125+ rec. yards. • DE BRIAN BURNS has career highs in sacks (10.5) & TFL (14) this season. Has sack in 5 of his past 6 at home & aims for his 7th in row at home with TFL. Had 2 sacks, TFL & PD in last meeting. • LB FRANKIE LUVU had career-high 6th sack of season last week. Has career highs in tackles (86) & TFL (13) this season. Has sack in 4 of his past 5 & aims for his 3rd in row with sack. • LB SHAQ THOMPSON had 12 tackles last week & has 110 tackles this season, his 4th-straight 100+ tackle season. • S JEREMY CHINN led team with career-high 14 tackles in Week 15.
BUFFALO BILLS (11-3) @ CHICAGO BEARS (3-11)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Bears lead all-time series, 8-5
STREAKS Bears have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME 11/4/18: Bears 41 at Bills 9
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/7/14: Bills 23, Bears 20 (OT)
LAST WEEK: W 32-29 vs. Miami
COACH VS. OPP. Sean McDermott: 0-1
PTS. FOR 27.5
PASSING Josh Allen: 325-510-3,857-30-11-97.3
RUSHING Josh Allen (QB): 109-705-6.5-6
RECEIVING Stefon Diggs: 99-1,299-13.1-10
PTS. AGAINST 17.9
SACKS Greg Rousseau: 7
INTs Jordan Poyer: 4
TAKE/GIVE +1 (22/21)
PUNTING (NET) Sam Martin: 47.7 (41.3)
KICKING Tyler Bass: 121 (40/41 PAT; 27/30 FG)
BUFFALO clinched postseason berth for 4th-consecutive season. • QB JOSH ALLEN passed for 304 yards & 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 119.2 rating & rushed for 77 yards last week, his 3rd game this season with 4+ TD passes, tied with Patrick Mahomes for most in NFL. Aims for 4th in row with 0 INTs. Needs 143 pass yards for 3rd-straight season with 4,000+ pass yards. Ranks 3rd in NFL with 30 TD passes. • RB DEVIN SINGLETARY had 70 scrimmage yards (42 rush, 28 rec.) last week. Has 50+ scrimmage yards in each of 7 road games this season. • RB JAMES COOK (rookie) had 1st-career TD catch in Week 15. • WR STEFON DIGGS aims for his 5th in row on road with 75+ rec. yards & 3rd in row with TD catch. Had 7 catches for 108 yards in his last game vs. Chi. (9/29/19 w/ Min.) & has rec. TD in 3 of his past 4 vs. Chi. Aims for his 3rd in row at Chi. with 100+ rec. yards. Ranks 3rd in NFL with 99 catches & 1,299 rec. yards & tied-3rd with 10 rec. TDs. • TE DAWSON KNOX had 6 catches for season-high 98 yards & TD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. • S JORDAN POYER aims for 7th in row with 5+ tackles. Has TFL in 2 of past 3. Is 1 of 2 in NFL (Justin Simmons) with 4+ INTs in each of past 2 seasons. • CB TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE led team with season-high 3 PD last week. Has PD in 2 of his past 3. Had INT in last meeting. • LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS aims for 4th in row with 6+ tackles. • LB MATT MILANO aims for 8th in row with 5+ tackles. Has TFL in 3 of his past 4 on road. Had 2 TFL in last meeting. • DE SHAQ LAWSON had sack & 1st FF of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with sack.
LAST WEEK L 25-20 vs. Philadelphia
COACH VS. OPP. Matt Eberflus: 0-0
PTS. FOR 20.7
PASSING Justin Fields: 170-274-2,048-15-10-88.0
RUSHING Justin Fields (QB): 143-1,000-7.0-8
RECEIVING Cole Kmet (TE): 39-433-11.1-5
PTS. AGAINST 25.6
SACKS Jaquan Brisker (R): 3
INTs Kyler Gordon (R): 2
TAKE/GIVE -1 (18/19)
PUNTING (NET) Trenton Gill: 46.3 (39.8)
KICKING Cairo Santos: 78 (24/29 PAT; 18/20 FG)
QB JUSTIN FIELDS totaled 247 yards (152 pass, 95 rush) & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 119.5 rating in Week 15. Leads all QBs with 1,000 rush yards in 2022 & is 3rd QB ever (Lamar Jackson & Michael Vick) with 1,000+ rush yards in single season. Has 2+ TD passes & 95+ rating in 3 of his past 4 at home. Has 50+ rush yards in 8 straight games & can tie Lamar Jackson (9 straight in 2019) for longest such streak ever by QB. • RB DAVID MONTGOMERY had 91 scrimmage yards (53 rush, 38 rec.) & 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.) in Week 15, his 1st-career game with both rush & rec. TD. Needs 24 scrimmage yards for 4th-straight 1,000-yard season since entering NFL in 2019. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with rush TD. • TE COLE KMET led team with 4 receptions last week. Ranks 3rd among NFC TEs with career-high 5 rec. TDs in 2022. • WR BYRON PRINGLE had 9th-career rec. TD last week & has TD catch in 2 of his past 3. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Buf., incl. postseason, with TD catch. • LB NICHOLAS MORROW led team with 11 tackles & had TFL last week. Has TFL in 6 of his past 7 & has career-high 10 TFL in 2022. Has career-high 95 tackles this season & has 5+ tackles in 4 of his past 5 games. • CB KYLER GORDON (rookie) had 2nd INT of season & 1st-career FR last week. • DB JAQUAN BRISKER has 5+ tackles in 10 of his past 11 games & ranks 2nd among rookie DBs with 78 tackles. • DB DEANDRE HOUSTON-CARSON had 1st INT of season last week. Has TFL in 2 of his past 3. Aims for his 4th in row with 5+ tackles. • DB JAYLON JOHNSON had season-high 3 PD last week.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-9) @ CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-8)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Browns lead all-time series, 13-5
STREAKS Browns have won 2 of last 3
LAST GAME 9/16/18: Browns 18 at Saints 21
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/14/14: Browns 26, Saints 24
LAST WEEK W 21-18 vs. Atlanta
COACH VS. OPP. Dennis Allen: 0-1
PTS. FOR 20.4
PASSING Andy Dalton: 211-316-2,403-17-7-98.1
RUSHING Alvin Kamara: 164-641-3.9-1
RECEIVING Chris Olave (R): 63-940-14.9-3
PTS. AGAINST 22.5
SACKS Demario Davis: 6.5
INTs Tyrann Mathieu: 2
TAKE/GIVE -12 (10/22)
PUNTING (NET) Blake Gillikin: 47.3 (42.1)
KICKING Wil Lutz: 88 (28/28 PAT; 20/26 FG)
QB ANDY DALTON passed for 151 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 132.2 rating in Week 15. Has 100+ rating in 3 of his past 4 & aims for his 3rd in row with TD pass & 100+ rating. Has 3,546 pass yards & 30 TDs (28 pass, 2 rush) vs. 14 INTs for 91.9 rating in 17 career starts vs. Cle. Has 2+ TD passes vs. 0 INTs & 110+ rating in 3 of his past 4 starts at Cle. • RB ALVIN KAMARA had 104 scrimmage yards (91 rush, 13 rec.) in Week 15. Has 1,087 scrimmage yards in 2022, his 6th-straight 1,000-yard season. Has 426 career catches & can surpass Roger Craig (434) for most catches by RB in 1st 6 seasons in NFL history. Had 6 catches & 99 scrimmage yards (53 rec., 46 rush) in last meeting. • WR CHRIS OLAVE ranks 2nd among rookies in receptions (63) & rec. yards (940). Has 50+ rec. yards in 11 of his 13 career games & aims for his 5th in row with 50+ rec. yards. • WR RASHID SHAHEED (rookie) had career-high 95 rec. yards & 2nd-career rec. TD last week & aims for his 4th in row with 50+ rec. yards. • TE JUWAN JOHNSON had 3rd-career game with 2 rec. TDs in Week 15. Has 7 rec. TDs in his past 7 & ranks 2nd among TEs in TD catches (7) in 2022. • TE TAYSOM HILL had 68-yard TD pass last week. Is 2nd player in SB era (Kordell Stewart) with 20+ rush TDs (21), 10+ TD passes (10) & 5+ rec. TDs (9). • DE CAMERON JORDAN has TFL in 2 of his past 3. Has 10 TFL in 2022 & is 1 of 2 (Aaron Donald) with 10+ TFL in each of past 8 seasons. Had 2 sacks in last meeting. • LB DEMARIO DAVIS has career-high 6.5 sacks in 2022 & aims for his 7th in row with 7+ tackles. Needs 11 tackles for his 6th-straight 100+ tackle season. • S TYRANN MATHIEU had 11th-career sack & 2 PD in Week 15.
LAST WEEK W 13-3 vs. Baltimore
COACH VS. OPP. Kevin Stefanski: 0-0
PTS. FOR 22.4
PASSING Deshaun Watson: 56-92-568-2-2-76.7
RUSHING Nick Chubb: 252-1,252-5.0-12
RECEIVING Amari Cooper: 67-932-13.9-7
PTS. AGAINST 23.3
SACKS Myles Garrett: 13.5
INTs Denzel Ward: 2
TAKE/GIVE -3 (15/18)
PUNTING (NET) Corey Bojorquez: 49.3 (41.3)
KICKING Cade York (R): 95 (29/31 PAT; 22/30 FG)
QB DESHAUN WATSON completed 18 of 28 atts. (season-high 64.3 pct.) for 161 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs with season-high 91.5 rating last week. Totaled 308 yards (268 pass, 40 rush) & 4 TDs (3 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT with 114.3 rating in only career start vs. NO (9/9/19 w/ Hou.). Has 107.5 rating in 4 career starts vs. NFC South. • RB NICK CHUBB rushed for 99 yards last week, his 8th game this season with 90+ rush yards, tied-most in NFL. Has 765 scrimmage yards (109.3 per game) & 9 rush TDs in 7 home games this season. Has 100+ rush yards & rush TD in 2 of past 3 at home. Ranks 3rd in NFL with 1,252 rush yards & tied-3rd with 12 rush TDs. Needs 76 scrimmage yards for 2nd-career season with 1,500+ scrimmage yards (1,772 in 2019). • WR AMARI COOPER led team with 58 rec. yards in Week 15. Aims for 4th in row at home with 50+ rec. yards & has TD catch in 5 of 7 home games this season. Needs 68 rec. yards for 6th-career season with 1,000+ rec. yards. • WR DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES had 2nd TD catch of season last week. • TE DAVID NJOKU has 5+ catches & rec. TD in 2 of past 3. • DE MYLES GARRETT aims for 6th in row with TFL & 3rd in row with 1.5+ sacks. Aims for his 5th in row at home with 1.5+ sacks. Ranks 3rd in NFL with 13.5 sacks in 2022. • LB DEION JONES had sack & PD in Week 15. Aims for 3rd in row with PD. Has sack in 2 of his 3 home games this season. Has 5+ tackles in each of 10 career games vs. NO. • CB DENZEL WARD aims for 4th in row with PD & 3rd in row with 2+ PD. Had 7 tackles in last meeting. Has PD in 4 of his past 5 vs. NFC South. • S JOHN JOHNSON had 9 tackles, FF, FR & PD last week. Has 5+ tackles in 6 of 7 home games in 2022. Has PD in 2 of past 3. Had INT in his last game vs. NO (9/15/19 w/ LAR).
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-7) @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-3)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Chiefs lead all-time series, 33-19
STREAKS Chiefs have won 3 of last 4
LAST GAME 12/23/18: Chiefs 31 at Seahawks 38
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/16/14: Chiefs 24, Seahawks 20
LAST WEEK: L 21-13 vs. San Francisco
COACH VS. OPP. Pete Carroll: 2-3
PTS. FOR 25.4
PASSING Geno Smith: 337-472-3,671-26-8-105.3
RUSHING Kenneth Walker (R): 150-696-4.6-9
RECEIVING DK Metcalf: 79-924-11.7-6
PTS. AGAINST 25.4
SACKS Uchenna Nwosu: 9
INTs Tariq Woolen (R): 6
TAKE/GIVE +1 (21/20)
PUNTING (NET) Michael Dickson: 49.2 (45.0)
KICKING Jason Myers: 115 (37/38 PAT; 26/27 FG)
QB GENO SMITH completed 31 of 44 atts. (70.5 pct.) for 238 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 90.9 rating last week. Has career highs in passing yards (3,671) & TD passes (26) in 2022. Leads NFL with 71.4 comp. pct. & ranks 2nd in passer rating (105.3) this season. Has 9 games with 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating in 2022, most in NFL & aims for his 7th in row on road with 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating. • RB KENNETH WALKER leads all rookies with 9 rush TDs & ranks 3rd with 696 rush yards. • WR DK METCALF had 7 catches for 55 yards last week. Aims for 6th in row with 50+ rec. yards & 8th in row with 5+ receptions. Is 1 of 5 WRs with 75+ receptions & 900+ rec. yards in each of past 3 seasons. Has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 on road. • WR MARQUISE GOODWIN has 3 rec. TDs in his past 3 on road. • TE NOAH FANT had 5 catches & 3rd rec. TD of season last week. Has TD catch in 2 of his past 3. • LB JORDYN BROOKS ranks 2nd in NFL with 149 tackles in 2022 & has 13 games with 8+ tackles this season, most in NFL. Aims for his 18th in row on road with 7+ tackles. • LB UCHENNA NWOSU has career highs in sacks (9) & TFL (9) this season. Has 4 sacks, 4 TFL & FF in his past 4 on road. Had INT in his last game vs. KC (12/16/21 w/ LAC). • LB CODY BARTON led team with 10 tackles last week. Has 10+ tackles in 3 of his past 4 & aims for his 3rd in row with 10+ tackles. Has 112 tackles in 2022, his 1stcareer 100+ tackle season. • CB TARIQ WOOLEN (rookie) has 6 INTs in 2022, tied-most in NFL. • S QUANDRE DIGGS has 4 PD in his past 4 & aims for his 3rd in row with PD. Has 5+ tackles in 4 of his past 5.
LAST WEEK: W 30-24 at Houston (OT)
COACH VS. OPP. Andy Reid: 4-4
PTS. FOR 29.6
PASSING Patrick Mahomes: 372-552-4,496-35-11-105.0
RUSHING Isiah Pacheco (R): 139-677-4.9-3
RECEIVING Travis Kelce (TE): 91-1,144-12.6-12
PTS. AGAINST 23.0
SACKS Chris Jones: 11
INTs Nick Bolton, L’Jarius Sneed: 2
TAKE/GIVE -6 (15/21)
PUNTING (NET) Tommy Townsend: 51.8 (46.5)
KICKING Harrison Butker: 76 (28/31 PAT; 16/21 FG)
KANSAS CITY clinched 7th-consecutive AFC West division title, tied with 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams for 2nd-longest streak of division titles in NFL history. • QB PATRICK MAHOMES completed 36 of 41 atts. (season-high 87.8 pct.) for 336 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 117.1 rating & had rush TD last week, highest singlegame comp. pct. ever, min. 40 atts. Aims for 3rd in row with 325+ pass yards & 2+ TD passes. Has rush TD in 2 of past 3. Passed for 273 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 103.4 rating in last meeting. Leads NFL with 4,496 pass yards & 35 TD passes in 2022 & is 5th QB ever with 35+ TD passes in 4+ seasons. • RB ISIAH PACHECO (rookie) aims for 7th in row with 80+ scrimmage yards & 3rd in row with 90+ scrimmage yards. Ranks 4th among rookies with 677 rush yards. • RB JERICK MCKINNON had GW 26-yard TD run in OT last week & aims for 3rd in row with 120+ scrimmage yards & 2+ TDs. Ties for lead among RBs with 5 rec. TDs this season. • TE TRAVIS KELCE had 10 catches for 105 yards in Week 15, 8th-career game with 10+ catches & 100+ rec. yards, 3rd-most ever by TE. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with rec. TD. Ties for NFL lead with 12 rec. TDs in 2022. • WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER aims for 3rd in row with 9+ catches & 70+ rec. yards. • DT CHRIS JONES aims for his 5th in row at home with 0.5+ sacks. Had 1.5 sacks in last meeting. Is 1 of 3 in NFL with 7+ sacks in each of past 5 seasons. • DE FRANK CLARK aims for 3rd in row with sack. Has TFL in 2 of his past 3 at home. Totaled 35 sacks & 8 FFs in 4 seasons with Sea. (2015-18). • LB NICK BOLTON aims for 7th in row with 7+ tackles. Ranks 5th in NFL with 137 tackles. • CB L’JARIUS SNEED is only DB in NFL with 5+ tackles in 14 games this season.
NEW YORK GIANTS (8-5-1) @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-3)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Vikings lead all-time series, 16-10
STREAKS Vikings have won past 3
LAST GAME 10/6/19: Giants 10 at Vikings 28
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/6/19
LAST WEEK: W 20-12 at Washington
COACH VS. OPP. Brian Daboll: 0-0
PTS. FOR 20.5
PASSING Daniel Jones: 268-406-2,694-12-4-90.5
RUSHING Saquon Barkley: 269-1,170-4.3-9
RECEIVING Darius Slayton: 40-631-15.8-2
PTS. AGAINST 22.3
SACKS Dexter Lawrence: 6.5
INTs Julian Love: 2
TAKE/GIVE +4 (17/13)
PUNTING (NET) Jamie Gillian: 47.2 (41.0)
KICKING Graham Gano: 97 (25/27 PAT; 24/27 FG)
QB DANIEL JONES totaled 195 yards (160 pass, 35 rush) in Week 15. Has 5 TDs (4 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT for 89.9 rating in 6 road starts in 2022. Has career highs in rush yards (583) & rush TDs (5), 5th-most rush yards among QBs this season. • RB SAQUON BARKLEY had 5 catches, 120 scrimmage yards (87 rush, 33 rec.) & 9th rush TD of season in Week 15. Has rush TD in 3 of his past 4 & aims for his 4th in row on road with rush TD. Ranks 4th in NFL with 1,170 rush yards & 4th among RBs with 1,464 scrimmage yards in 2022. • WR DARIUS SLAYTON had 5 receptions last week. Has 50+ rec. yards in 4 of his past 5 on road. Needs 69 rec. yards for 3rd-career season with 700+ rec. yards. • WR RICHIE JAMES has career highs in catches (42), rec. yards (403) & rec. TDs (3) this season. • LB KAYVON THIBODEAUX (rookie) led team with career-high 12 tackles & had career best 3 TFL, 3rd-career sack, 2nd-career FF & 1st-career FR-TD in Week 15. • DL DEXTER LAWRENCE had 0.5 sacks & 4th-career FF in Week 15 & has career-high 6.5 sacks in 2022. Had sack & FF in last meeting. • DL LEONARD WILLIAMS has 6+ tackles in 2 of his past 3 on road. • LB JAYLON SMITH aims for his 8th in row with 5+ tackles. Had 7 tackles & sack in his last game at Min. (11/22/20 w/ Dal.). • LB AZEEZ OJULARI has 4.5 sacks in 5 games this season. Has FF in 3 of his past 4. • S JULIAN LOVE leads NFC DBs with career-high 106 tackles. Aims for his 6th in row on road with 6+ tackles. • S JASON PINNOCK had career-high 2 PD & 2 FF of season last week.
LAST WEEK: W 39-36 vs. Indianapolis (OT)
COACH VS. OPP. Kevin O’Connell: 0-0
PTS. FOR 25.1
PASSING Kirk Cousins: 355-544-3,818-24-11-92.0
RUSHING Dalvin Cook: 230-1,045-4.5-8
RECEIVING Justin Jefferson: 111-1,623-14.6-7
PTS. AGAINST 24.9
SACKS Za’Darius Smith: 10
INTs Harrison Smith: 5
TAKE/GIVE +4 (21/17)
PUNTING (NET) Ryan Wright (R): 47.5 (42.8)
KICKING Greg Joseph: 93 (33/38 PAT; 20/25 FG)
MINNESOTA clinched NFC North for 1st time since 2017. Overcame 33-point deficit to win in Week 15, largest comeback victory in NFL history. • QB KIRK COUSINS passed for career-high 460 yards & 4 TDs last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 400+ pass yards & 2+ TD passes. Needs TD pass to become 5th player ever with 25+ TD passes in 8 straight seasons. Needs 182 pass yards for 7th-career 4,000-yard season. • RB DALVIN COOK had season-high 190 scrimmage yards (95 rush, 95 rec.) & 2nd rec. TD of season in Week 15, his 7th-career game with 190+ scrimmage yards, tiedmost in NFL since 2019. Has 1,000+ rush yards (1,045) & 1,300+ scrimmage yards (1,310) for 4th-straight season. Aims for his 4th in row with TD. • WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON tied his career high with 12 receptions for 123 yards & had 7th TD catch of season in Week 15. Leads NFL in receptions (111) & rec. yards (1,623) & is 3rd player ever with 1,600+ rec. yards in consecutive seasons. Has 307 career receptions, 2nd-most by player in 1st 3 seasons all-time (Michael Thomas – 321). • WR ADAM THIELEN became 3rd undrafted player (Antonio Gates & Rod Smith) since 1967 with 5+ rec. TDs in 6 different seasons. • WR K.J. OSBORN had career highs in catches (10) & rec. yards (157) in Week 15. • TE T.J. HOCKENSON is 1 of 2 TEs (Travis Kelce) with 60+ catches in each of past 3 seasons. • LB ZA’DARIUS SMITH is 1 of 4 with 10+ sacks (10) & 15+ TFL (15) in 2022. • LB DANIELLE HUNTER had 1.5 sacks last week & has 8.5 sacks this season. • LB ERIC KENDRICKS has 119 tackles in 2022, his 7th-straight 100+ tackle season. • S HARRISON SMITH leads all active players with 34 career INTs.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-4) @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-7)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Patriots lead all-time series, 17-9
STREAKS Patriots have won past 3
LAST GAME 12/15/19: Patriots 34 at Bengals 13
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/16/16: Patriots 35, Bengals 17
LAST WEEK: W 34-23 at Tampa Bay
COACH VS. OPP. Zac Taylor: 0-1
PTS. FOR 26.4
PASSING Joe Burrow: 349-512-3,885-31-10-102.6
RUSHING Joe Mixon: 183-722-3.9-6
RECEIVING Ja’Marr Chase: 71-881-12.4-8
PTS. AGAINST 20.6
SACKS Sam Hubbard: 6.5
INTs Vonn Bell: 4
TAKE/GIVE +5 (19/14)
PUNTING (NET) Drue Chrisman: 47.0 (42.2)
KICKING Evan McPherson: 99 (36/39 PAT; 21/25 FG)
QB JOE BURROW tied career high with 4 TD passes last week. Aims for 4th in row with 2+ TD passes. Aims for 6th in row on road with 90+ rating. Has 8 TDs vs. INT with 111 rating in 3 career starts vs. AFC East. Has 78 career TD passes, 5th-most ever by player in 1st 40 games. Needs 115 pass yards to join Carson Palmer (2006- 07) as only Cin. QBs ever with 4,000+ pass yards in consecutive seasons. • RB JOE MIXON aims for his 10th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards. Had 156 scrimmage yards (136 rush, 20 rec.) in last meeting. • RB SAMAJE PERINE has 80+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 3 on road. • WR JA’MARR CHASE aims for his 7th in row with 7+ catches & 50+ rec. yards & 3rd in row with rec. TD. Has TD catch in 3 of his past 4 on road. Needs 119 rec. yards to join A.J. Green as only Cin. players ever with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of 1st 2 seasons. • WR TEE HIGGINS had TD catch last week & has rec. TD in 3 of past 4. Has 100+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3 on road. Needs 106 rec. yards for 2nd-straight 1,000-yard season. • WR TYLER BOYD had 5th TD catch of season in Week 15. • LB LOGAN WILSON had 15 tackles & 1st full sack of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 15+ tackles. Leads team with career-best 106 tackles this season. • LB GERMAINE PRATT had 9 tackles, 2 PD & 2nd INT of season in Week 15. Aims for 3rd in row with 5+ tackles & PD. Has 5+ tackles in each of his 7 road games in 2022. • DE SAM HUBBARD has sack in 3 of his past 4. Had sack in last meeting. • DT D.J. READER had 1st FF & 2nd FR of season last week. Has PD in 3 of past 4. • S JESSIE BATES aims for 3rd in row with PD. Has INT in 2 of his past 3 vs. AFC East. • CB ELI APPLE had season-high 7 tackles with 2 PD in Week 15.
LAST WEEK: L 30-24 at Las Vegas
COACH VS. OPP. Bill Belichick: 16-4
PTS. FOR 21.4
PASSING Mac Jones: 221-336-2,310-7-8-82.6
RUSHING Rhamondre Stevenson: 183-914-5.0-5
RECEIVING Jakobi Meyers: 52-640-12.3-3
PTS. AGAINST 19.2
SACKS Matthew Judon: 14.5
INTs Jonathan Jones: 3
TAKE/GIVE +3 (22/19)
PUNTING (NET) Michael Palardy: 43.3 (37.5)
KICKING Nick Folk: 118 (28/28 PAT; 30/35 FG)
QB MAC JONES aims for his 4th start in row at home with 0 INTs & has 0 INTs in 5 of his past 6 overall. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. AFC North with 250+ pass yards. • RB RHAMONDRE STEVENSON rushed for career-high 172 yards & TD last week, most rush yards by NE player in single game since 2014 (Jonas Gray – 201). Has 75+ scrimmage yards in 4 of past 5. Has 90+ scrimmage yards & rush TD in 3 of 4 career games vs. AFC North. Needs 86 rush yards to become 1st NE 1,000-yard rusher since 2016 (LeGarrette Blount). • RB DAMIEN HARRIS aims for his 3rd in row vs. AFC North with rush TD. • WR JAKOBI MEYERS has 50+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. AFC North. Needs 60 rec. yards for 3rd-straight season with 700+ rec. yards. • TE HUNTER HENRY had 5 catches for 73 yards in only career game vs. Cin. (9/13/20 w/ LAC). Needs 85 rec. yards for 5th-straight season with 500+ rec. yards. • LB MATTHEW JUDON has 10 sacks in 6 home games this season & has 1.5+ sacks in 4 of his past 5 at home. Ranks 2nd in NFL with career-high 14.5 sacks in 2022 & can join HOFer Andre Tripett as only NE players with 15+ sacks in single season since 1982. • LB JOSH UCHE had FF last week & aims for 5th in row with 0.5+ sacks. Has FF in 2 of past 3. Since Week 8, leads NFL with 10.5 sacks. Judon & Uche are 1 of 2 pairs of teammates each with 10+ sacks this season. • LB JA’WHAUN BENTLEY aims for 3rd in row with 10+ tackles. • DB KYLE DUGGER had 16-yard INT-TD last week, 1st-career TD. Aims for 3rd in row with takeaway. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 5+ tackles & PD. • DB MARCUS JONES (rookie) aims for 4th in row with PD.
HOUSTON TEXANS (1-12-1) @ TENNESSEE TITANS (7-7)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Titans lead all-time series, 23-18
STREAKS Titans have won past 2
LAST GAME 10/30/22: Titans 17 at Texans 10
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/21/21: Texans 22, Titans 13
LAST WEEK: L 30-24 vs. Kansas City (OT)
COACH VS. OPP. Lovie Smith: 2-3
PTS. FOR 16.8
PASSING Davis Mills: 231-373-2,440-13-12-79.2
RUSHING Rex Burkhead: 26-80-3.1-0
RECEIVING Brandin Cooks: 44-520-11.8-1
PTS. AGAINST 24.6
SACKS Jerry Hughes: 8
INTs Jalen Pitre (R): 3
TAKE/GIVE -4 (19/23)
PUNTING (NET) Cameron Johnston: 48.8 (43.1)
KICKING Ka’imi Fairbairn: 95 (20/20 PAT; 25/27 FG)
QB DAVIS MILLS had 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs with 92.5 rating last week. Has rush TD in 2 of past 3. Has 300+ pass yards in 2 of his past 3 on road. Has 6 TDs vs. INT with 96.7 rating in his past 4 starts vs. division. • RB ROYCE FREEMAN led team with 51 rush yards in season debut last week. • WR BRANDIN COOKS aims for his 3rd in row with 55+ rec. yards. Has 4+ catches in 5 of his 6 road games this season. Had 4 catches for 73 yards in Week 8 meeting. Has 70+ rec. yards in 2 of his 3 games vs. division this season. Is 1 of 4 in NFL (Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins & Travis Kelce) with 500+ rec. yards in each of past 9 seasons. • WR NICO COLLINS has 5+ catches in 3 of his past 4. • WR CHRIS MOORE aims for 4th in row with 40+ rec. yards. Has 70+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3 on road. Needs 20 rec. yards for 1st-career season with 500+ rec. yards. • TE JORDAN AKINS had 3rd TD catch of season last week. • TE TEAGAN QUITORIANO (rookie) had 2nd rec. TD of season in Week 15. • S JALEN PITRE can become 1st rookie since 2000 with 12+ tackles in 4 straight games. Has PD in 3 of past 4. Leads all rookies with 117 tackles & is 3rd Texans rookie ever with 100+ tackles. • CB TREMON SMITH had career-best 11 tackles with TFL, PD & 3rd FF of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with PD. Has FF in 2 of 3 games vs. division in 2022. • LB CHRISTIAN HARRIS (rookie) set career highs in tackles (14) & TFL (3) last week. Aims for 4th in row with 5+ tackles. Has PD in 2 of his past 3 on road. • LB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY had 11 tackles & sack last week. Aims for 8th in row with 7+ tackles & 3rd in row with 10+ tackles. Has TFL in 4 of past 5.
LAST WEEK L 17-14 at Los Angeles Chargers
COACH VS. OPP. Mike Vrabel: 6-3
PTS. FOR 18.2
PASSING Ryan Tannehill: 212-325-2,536-13-6-94.6
RUSHING Derrick Henry: 296-1,303-4.4-12
RECEIVING Robert Woods: 40-418-10.5-1
PTS. AGAINST 20.9
SACKS Jeffey Simmons: 7.5
INTs Kevin Byard, David Long: 2
TAKE/GIVE -1 (15/16)
PUNTING (NET) Ryan Stonehouse (R): 53.6 (44.5)
KICKING Randy Bullock: 60 (24/24 PAT; 12/15 FG)
QB RYAN TANNEHILL completed 15 of 22 atts. (68.2 pct.) for 165 yards & had rush TD last week. Has 90+ rating in 5 of his past 6. Has 0 INTs in 3 of his past 4 at home. Had 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 138.9 rating in his last start vs. Hou. (1/9/22). Has 111.7 rating in his past 7 starts vs. Hou. Is 12-3 over his past 15 starts vs. division. • RB DERRICK HENRY had 163 scrimmage yards (104 rush, 59 rec.) & 12th rush TD of season last week, his 18th-career game with 150+ scrimmage yards & TD, most in NFL since 2011. Aims for 3rd in row with 150+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Has 115+ scrimmage yards in 4 of past 5. Has 200+ scrimmage yards & 2+ rush TDs in each of his past 4 games vs. Hou. & is 1st player ever with 150+ rush yards in 4 straight games vs. single opponent. Has 668 scrimmage yards (167 per game) & 4 rush TDs in 4 games vs. division this season. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 1,303 rush yards in 2022. • WR ROBERT WOODS has TD catch in 3 of his past 4 vs. Hou. • WR NICK WESTBROOK-IKHINE has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 at home. Had career-high 7 catches for 107 yards in last home meeting. • TE CHIGOZIEM OKONKWO (rookie) aims for 4th in row with 45+ rec. yards. • DT JEFFERY SIMMONS had 6 tackles & sack last week. Has PD in 2 of past 3. Had sack in Week 8 meeting & aims for 3rd in row vs. Hou. with sack. • DE DEMARCUS WALKER had 5 tackles & season-high 2 sacks in Week 15. Aims for 3rd in row with TFL. Had sack in Week 8 meeting & has sack in 2 of past 3 vs. Hou. • LB BUD DUPREE has TFL in 3 of 4 home games this season. Had sack in Week 8 meeting. • S KEVIN BYARD had 5 tackles & 2nd INT of season last week. Aims for 3rd in row with PD. • CB JOSHUA KALU had 1st-career INT in Week 15.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (7-6-1) @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (10-4)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER 49ers leads all-time series, 18-11-1
STREAKS Commanders have won 2 of past 3
LAST GAME 12/13/20: Commanders 23 at 49ers 15
LAST GAME AT SITE 12/13/20
LAST WEEK L 20-12 vs. New York Giants
COACH VS. OPP. Ron Rivera: 4-1
PTS. FOR 18.9
PASSING Taylor Heinicke: 148-241-1,693-10-5-87.7
RUSHING Brian Robinson (R): 159-652-4.1-2
RECEIVING Terry McLaurin: 68-1,015-14.9-3
PTS. AGAINST 19.7
SACKS Daron Payne: 8.5
INTs Darrick Forrest: 3
TAKE/GIVE -2 (15/17)
PUNTING (NET) Tress Way: 46.9 (43.1)
KICKING Joey Slye: 85 (19/22 PAT; 22/25 FG)
QB TAYLOR HEINICKE passed for 249 yards & TD vs. 0 INTs for 98.2 rating last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 95+ rating. Aims for his 3rd in row on road & 3rd in row overall with 0 INTs. • RB BRIAN ROBINSON (rookie) had 107 scrimmage yards (89 rush, 18 rec.) in Week 15. Aims for his 4th in row with 100+ scrimmage yards. Ranks 5th among rookies with 71.2 scrimmage yards per game. • RB ANTONIO GIBSON has 50+ scrimmage yards in 4 of his past 5 & aims for his 7th in row on road with 50+ scrimmage yards. • WR TERRY MCLAURIN leads team with 1,015 rec. yards, his 3rd-straight 1,000-yard season. Has 6+ catches & 100+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4 on road. • WR JAHAN DOTSON (rookie) had career-high 105 rec. yards last week, his 1st-career 100-yard game. Had 6th TD catch of season last week, 2nd-most among rookies & aims for his 3rd in row with rec. TD. • WR CURTIS SAMUEL has 3rd-career season with 50+ catches & 600+ rec. yards in 2022. • DT JONATHAN ALLEN has sack in 5 of his past 6 on road & aims for his 3rd in row on road with sack. Ranks tied-2nd in NFL with career-high 16 TFL in 2022 & aims for his 3rd in row overall with TFL. • DT DARON PAYNE has sack in 4 of his past 5 on road & TFL in 6 of his past 7 road games. Ranks tied-3rd in NFL with career-high 15 TFL in 2022. • DE MONTEZ SWEAT has TFL in 4 of his past 5 & aims for his 4th in row on road with TFL. Has 4 sacks in his past 5 road games. Had sack in last meeting. • S BOBBY MCCAIN had career-high 11 tackles & 2nd-career FF last week.
LAST WEEK W 21-13 at Seattle
COACH VS. OPP. Kyle Shanahan: 1-2
PTS. FOR 24.1
PASSING Brock Purdy (R): 62-93-678-6-2-100.5
RUSHING Christian McCaffrey (2022): 200-927-4.6-6
RECEIVING Brandon Aiyuk: 60-774-12.9-7
PTS. AGAINST 15.0
SACKS Nick Bosa: 15.5
INTs Talanoa Hufanga: 4
TAKE/GIVE +7 (22/15)
PUNTING (NET) Mitch Wishnowsky: 43.9 (39.5)
KICKING Robbie Gould: 97 (37/38 PAT; 20/24 FG)
SAN FRANCISCO clinched NFC West for 1st time since 2019. • QB BROCK PURDY had 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 117 rating last week. Aims for his 3rd start in row with 115+ rating & 4th in row overall with 2+ TD passes. • RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY had 6 catches, 138 scrimmage yards (108 rush, 30 rec.) & rush TD last week. Aims for his 4th in row with 135+ scrimmage yards & TD. Ranks 2nd among RBs in receptions (74) & 3rd in scrimmage yards (1,550) this season. Has 431 career catches & can surpass Roger Craig (434) for most catches by RB in 1st 6 seasons in NFL history. • TE GEORGE KITTLE had 93 rec. yards & 3rd-career game with 2 rec. TDs in Week 15. Has 5,082 rec. yards since entering NFL in 2017 & is 6th TE ever with 5,000+ rec. yards in 1st 6 career seasons. • WR BRANDON AIYUK has 5+ receptions in 4 of his past 5 at home. Has 774 rec. yards in 2022 & needs 53 rec. yards for new career high (826 in 2021). • DL NICK BOSA leads NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2022 & became 5th player since 1982 with 15+ sacks in 2 of his 1st 4 seasons. Has sack in 11 games this season, most in NFL. Ranks tied-2nd with 16 TFL in 2022 & is only player with 15+ TFL in 3 of the past 4 seasons. • LB FRED WARNER needs 2 tackles for 5th-straight 100+ tackle season. • LB DRE GREENLAW has 2nd FF of season last week. Has career-high 111 tackles in 2022. • DB CHARVARIUS WARD had 1st-career FR in Week 15. Has career-high 11 PD this season. • DB JIMMIE WARD has PD in 4 of his past 5 & aims for his 4th in row at home with PD. • S TALANOA HUFANGA had 2nd sack & 2nd FF of season last week.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-1) @ DALLAS COWBOYS (10-4)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Cowboys lead all-time series, 69-54
STREAKS Cowboys have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME 10/16/22: Cowboys 17 at Eagles 26
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/27/21: Cowboys 41, Eagles 21
LAST WEEK: W 25-20 at Chicago
COACH VS. OPP. Nick Sirianni: 1-2
PTS. FOR 29.4
PASSING Jalen Hurts: 286-425-3,472-22-5-104.5
RUSHING Miles Sanders: 215-1,110-5.2-11
RECEIVING A.J. Brown: 74-1,201-16.2-10
PTS. AGAINST 19.1
SACKS Haason Reddick: 12
INTs James Bradberry, Darius Slay: 3
TAKE/GIVE +12 (25/13)
PUNTING (NET) Brett Kern: 45.0 (33.0)
KICKING Jake Elliott: 81 (45/47 PAT; 12/15 FG)
PHILADELPHIA clinched playoff berth for 2nd-straight season under HC Nick Sirianni. • QB JALEN HURTS became 3rd QB ever (Dak Prescott & Jack Kemp) with 300+ pass yards (315) & 3 rush TDs in single game. Is 4th QB in NFL history with 2 games of 3 rush TDs. Has 13 rush TDs in 2022, 2nd-most by QB in single season all-time. Has 8 career games with 2+ rush TDs, 2nd-most by QB in NFL history. Aims for his 3rd in row at Dal. with 300+ pass yards. • RB MILES SANDERS ranks 5th in NFL with career-high 1,110 rush yards in 2022. Has career-high 11 rush TDs this season. Had rush TD in Week 6 meeting & has rush TD in 3 of his past 4 vs. Dal. • WR A.J. BROWN had 9 catches for 181 yards in Week 15. Has 7 games with 150+ rec. yards, 5th-most by player in 1st 4 seasons in NFL history. Has career highs in receptions (74) & rec. yards (1,201) this season. Had rec. TD in Week 6 meeting. • WR DEVONTA SMITH had 126 rec. yards last week, his 3rd game with 100+ rec. yards in 2022. Has 5+ catches in 5 of his past 6. Had rec. TD in Week 6 meeting. • LB HAASON REDDICK had 2 sacks, FF & FR last week. Is only player in NFL with 3+ FFs (4) & 3+ FRs (3) in 2022. Aims for his 4th in row with sack. • DT JAVON HARGRAVE had 2 sacks & 2 TFL last week, his 3rd game with 2+ sacks in 2022. Has career-high 10 sacks this season. • DE JOSH SWEAT had 4th-career game with 2 sacks & tied his career high with 3 TFL in Week 15. Has career-high 9.5 sacks in 2022 & aims for his 5th in row with sack. • CB JAMES BRADBERRY had 4 PD in last meeting. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 14 PD in 2022. • CB DARIUS SLAY had 2 PD & INT in Week 6 meeting.
LAST WEEK L 40-34 at Jacksonville (OT)
COACH VS. OPP. Mike McCarthy: 7-4
PTS. FOR 28.1
PASSING Dak Prescott: 191-281-2,103-17-11-93.8
RUSHING Tony Pollard: 177-969-5.5-9
RECEIVING CeeDee Lamb: 81-1,087-13.4-6
PTS. AGAINST 19.2
SACKS Micah Parsons: 13
INTs DaRon Bland (R): 4
TAKE/GIVE +9 (26/17)
PUNTING (NET) Bryan Anger: 48.8 (42.8)
KICKING Brett Maher: 112 (43/45 PAT; 23/26 FG)
DALLAS clinched playoff berth for 2nd-consecutive season. • QB DAK PRESCOTT completed 23 of 30 atts. (76.7 pct) for 256 yards & 3 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 107.1 rating last week. Has 2+ TD passes in 6 of his past 7 starts. Has 100+ rating in 5 of his past 6 starts vs. Phi. Has 8 TD passes vs. 0 INTs for 148.2 rating in his past 2 starts vs. Phi. • RB TONY POLLARD had 106 scrimmage yards (75 rush, 31 rec.) in Week 15, his 7th game with 100+ scrimmage yards in 2022. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 2+ TDs. Has career highs in scrimmage yards (1,279), rush yards (969) & TDs (12) this season. • RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT can become 3rd player (Jonathan Taylor & DeAngelo Williams) in past 15 seasons with rush TD in 8 straight games. Has 4th career season with 10+ rush TDs in 2022. Has 742 scrimmage yards (148.4 per game) & 3 rush TDs in 5 career home games vs. Phi. & aims for his 6th in row at home vs. Phi. with 115+ scrimmage yards. • WR CEEDEE LAMB had 7 catches for 126 yards last week, his 8th-career game with 100+ rec. yards. Has career high 81 receptions in 2022. Has 5+ catches in 12 of his past 13 & aims for his 8th in row with 5+ receptions. • LB MICAH PARSONS became 3rd player since 1982 (Aldon Smith & HOFer Reggie White) with 13+ sacks in each of his 1st 2 NFL seasons. • DE DEMARCUS LAWRENCE has 8 TFL in his past 8 vs. Phi. • CB TREVON DIGGS has 8 PD & 4 INTs in 4 career games vs. Phi. & aims for his 3rd in row at home vs. Phi. with INT. • CB DARON BLAND had 4th INT of season last week, 2nd-most among rookies. • S DONOVAN WILSON had 3rd-career FR last week. Had sack in last meeting.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (6-8) @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-8)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Raiders lead all-time series, 14-10
STREAKS Raiders have won past 2
LAST GAME 9/19/21: Raiders 26 at Steelers 17
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/19/21
LAST WEEK: W 30-24 vs. New England
COACH VS. OPP. Josh McDaniels: 0-1
PTS. FOR 24.1
PASSING Derek Carr: 289-472-3,348-23-11-89.2
RUSHING Josh Jacobs: 291-1,495-5.1-11
RECEIVING Davante Adams: 86-1,275-14.8-12
PTS. AGAINST 24.1
SACKS Maxx Crosby: 11.5
INTs Duron Harmon: 2
TAKE/GIVE -3 (11/14)
PUNTING (NET) AJ Cole: 49.5 (43.9)
KICKING Daniel Carlson: 116 (29/30 PAT; 29/32 FG)
QB DEREK CARR passed for 231 yards & 3 TDs vs. INT last week, his 10th game this season with 2+ TD passes, tied 2nd-most in NFL. Has 2+ TD passes in 6 of past 7. Has 1,005 pass yards (335 per game) with 8 TDs vs. INT & 113.9 rating in 3 career starts vs. Pit. Needs 339 pass yards to surpass HOFer Dan Marino (35,386) for 3rdmost ever by QB in 1st 9 seasons. • RB JOSH JACOBS has 100+ scrimmage yards in 6 straight games, longest active steak in NFL. Has rush TD in 3 of past 4. Aims for his 4th in row in primetime with 100+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Leads NFL with 1,858 scrimmage yards & 1,495 rush yards & can join HOFer Marcus Allen (1985) as only players in franchise history with 2,000+ scrimmage yards & 1,500 rush yards in single season. • WR DAVANTE ADAMS has 70+ rec. yards in 6 of past 7 & each of past 4 on road. Had 5 catches for 82 yards & TD in only career game at Pit. (11/26/17 w/ GB). Has 847 rec. yards (121 per game) & 9 rec. TDs in his past 7 in primetime. Ties for NFL lead with 12 rec. TDs this season & ranks 4th with 1,275 rec. yards. • TE DARREN WALLER had 2nd TD catch of season last week. • DE MAXX CROSBY aims for 4th in row on road with sack & 3rd in row on road with PD. Had TFL in last meeting. Has career-best 11.5 sacks in 2022, most by Raider since 2015 (Khalil Mack – 15). Leads NFL with 19 TFL this season. • DE CHANDLER JONES had 2 PD & GW 48-yard FR-TD as time expired last week, 2ndcareer TD. Has sack in 2 of past 3 & FR in 3 of past 4. Aims for 3rd in row with FR. Had sack, FF & PD in his last game vs. Pit. (12/18/19 w/ Az.). • LB DENZEL PERRYMAN aims for 5th in row with 7+ tackles. Has TFL in 4 of past 5.
LAST WEEK: W 24-16 at Carolina
COACH VS. OPP. Mike Tomlin: 2-5
PTS. FOR 17.9
PASSING Kenny Pickett (R): 191-294-1,797-4-8-74.9
RUSHING Najee Harris: 211-790-3.7-6
RECEIVING Diontae Johnson: 77-745-9.7-0
PTS. AGAINST 22.1
SACKS Alex Highsmith: 11
INTs Minkah Fitzpatrick: 4
TAKE/GIVE 0 (17/17)
PUNTING (NET) Pressley Harvin: 44.1 (40.5)
KICKING Chris Boswell: 53 (14/14 PAT; 13/18 FG)
QB KENNY PICKETT (rookie) needs 203 pass yards to join Ben Roethlisberger (2,621 in 2004) as only Pit. rookies ever with 2,000+ pass yards. • QB MITCH TRUBISKY completed 17 of 22 atts. (season-high 77.3 pct.) for 179 yards & 100.4 rating last week. • RB NAJEE HARRIS rushed for 86 yards & TD in Week 15. Aims for 4th in row with 50+ scrimmage yards & 3rd in row with rush TD. Has rush TD in 4 of past 5. Had 81 scrimmage yards (43 rec., 38 rush) & TD catch in last meeting. Has TD in 7 of 8 career primetime games. Needs 45 scrimmage yards to join Le’Veon Bell as only players in franchise history with 1,000+ scrimmage yards in each of 1st 2 seasons. • WR DIONTAE JOHNSON set season highs in catches (10) & rec. yards (98) last week. Has 5+ catches in 11 games this season, tied 4th-most in NFL. Aims for 5th in row with 5+ catches & 3rd in row with 80+ rec. yards. Had 9 catches for 105 yards in last meeting. Aims for his 10th in row in primetime with 5+ catches. • WR GEORGE PICKENS ranks 3rd among rookies with 643 rec. yards & 4th with 42 catches. Aims for 3rd in row with 50+ rec. yards • LB T.J. WATT had season-high 1.5 sacks last week & aims for 3rd in row with sack. Had sack & FF in last meeting. Has 9 sacks in his past 5 in primetime. • LB ALEX HIGHSMITH had career-high 11th sack & NFL-leading 5th FF of the season in Week 15. Has 0.5+ sacks in 4 of past 5 at home. • DT CAMERON HEYWARD had 1.5 sacks last week & has sack in 2 of past 3. Had 7 tackles, TFL & PD in last meeting. • S MINKAH FITZPATRICK had PD last week. Has PD in 3 of 4 home games this season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-8) @ MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-6)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Dolphins lead all-time series, 10-5
STREAKS Packers have won past 2
LAST GAME 11/11/18: Dolphins 12 at Packers 31
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/12/14: Packers 27, Dolphins 24
LAST WEEK W 24-12 vs. Los Angeles Rams
COACH VS. OPP. Matt LaFleur: 0-0
PTS. FOR 20.5
PASSING Aaron Rodgers: 294-453-3,093-23-10-92.3
RUSHING Aaron Jones: 181-937-5.2-2
RECEIVING Allen Lazard: 46-627-13.6-5
PTS. AGAINST 22.4
SACKS Preston Smith: 7.5
INTs Jaire Alexander: 4
TAKE/GIVE -3 (16/19)
PUNTING (NET) Pat O’Donnell: 44.8 (39.6)
KICKING Mason Crosby: 77 (29/31 PAT; 16/19 FG)
QB AARON RODGERS completed 22 of 30 atts. (73.3 pct.) for 229 yards & TD vs. INT for 92.2 rating last week. Has 3,093 pass yards in 2022, his 13th-career season with 3,000+ pass yards & needs 2 TD passes for 13th-career season with 25+ TD passes. Has 7 TDs (6 pass, 1 rush) vs. INT for 98.2 rating in 3 career starts vs. Mia. & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Mia. with 2+ TD passes. • RB AARON JONES had 126 scrimmage yards (90 rush, 36 rec.) & rec. TD last week. Has 5 rec. TDs in 2022, tied-most among RBs. Since 2019, ranks 3rd among RBs with 47 scrimmage TDs. Has 1,301 scrimmage yards in 2022, his 3rd-career season with 1,300+ scrimmage yards (2019-20). Had 172 scrimmage yards (145 rush, 27 rec.) & 2 rush TDs in last meeting. • RB A.J. DILLON had 4th-career game with 2 rush TDs last week. Aims for his 3rd in row on road & 4th in row overall with rush TD. • WR CHRISTIAN WATSON leads all rookies with 7 rec. TDs & is only player in NFL with 7+ rec. TDs & 2+ rush TDs (2). • WR ROMEO DOUBS led team with 5 catches for 55 rec. yards last week. • LB PRESTON SMITH had 2 sacks last week, his 9th-career game with 2+ sacks. Has 0.5+ sacks & TFL in 3 of his past 4. Had sack, FF & FR in his only career game vs. Mia. (9/13/15 w/ Was.). • LB QUAY WALKER (rookie) had 5 tackles, sack, FF & 2 PD last week. Ranks 2nd among rookies with 103 tackles & is only rookie with 14 games of 5+ tackles. Is only player with 100+ tackles & 3 FFs (3) this season. • CB RASUL DOUGLAS had 3rd INT of season last week & has PD in 3 of his past 4.
LAST WEEK L 32-29 at Buffalo
COACH VS. OPP. Mike McDaniel: 0-0
PTS. FOR 24.6
PASSING Tua Tagovailoa: 243-375-3,238-24-5-107.8
RUSHING Raheem Mostert: 153-746-4.9-3
RECEIVING Tyreek Hill: 109-1,529-14.0-7
PTS. AGAINST 24.6
SACKS Bradley Chubb (2022): 8
INTs Jevon Holland: 2
TAKE/GIVE -2 (13/15)
PUNTING (NET) Thomas Morstead: 46.4 (40.4)
KICKING Jason Sanders: 99 (36/39 PAT; 21/25 FG)
QB TUA TAGOVAILOA passed for 234 yards & 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 104 rating last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 0 INTs. Has 7 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 108.7 rating in 5 home starts this season. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. NFC North with 300+ pass yards & 3+ TD passes. Leads NFL with 107.8 passer rating in 2022. • RB RAHEEM MOSTERT had reg. season career-high 156 scrimmage yards (136 rush, 20 rec.) last week, 4th-career game with 150+ scrimmage yards & 1st since 2020. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 85+ scrimmage yards & TD. Set career highs in rush yards (220) & rush TDs (4) in 2019 NFC-C vs. GB (1/19/20 w/ SF). Needs 108 scrimmage yards for 1st-career 1,000-yard season. • RB JEFF WILSON aims for his 3rd in row at home with rush TD. • WR TYREEK HILL scored 75th-career TD last week, tied with HOFer Lance Alworth for 3rd-most ever by WR in 1st 7 seasons. Aims for 5th in row with 65+ rec. yards & 4th in row with TD catch. Ranks 2nd in NFL with career-bests in catches (109) & rec. yards (1,529) in 2022, most rec. yards in single season in franchise history. • WR JAYLEN WADDLE led team with 114 rec. yards & had TD catch in Week 15. Has 65+ rec. yards in each of his 6 home games this season. • CB XAVIEN HOWARD aims for his 3rd in row at home with FR. • LB BRADLEY CHUBB has 0.5+ sacks in each of 1st 2 home games with Mia. Had 3 TFL in only career game vs. GB (9/22/19 w/ Den.). • LB JAELAN PHILLIPS had sack & 1st-career FF last week. Aims for 6th in row with 0.5+ sacks. Is 1st Mia. player since 1982 with 7+ sacks in each of 1st 2 seasons. • DT CHRISTIAN WILKINS had 6 tackles, FF & FR last week. Has TFL in 6 of past 7.
DENVER BRONCOS (4-10) @ LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-10)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Rams lead all-time series, 9-5
STREAKS Rams have won past 4
LAST GAME 10/14/18: Rams 23 at Broncos 20
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/16/14: Rams 22, Broncos 7 (in St. Louis)
LAST WEEK: W 24-15 vs. Arizona
COACH VS. OPP. Nathaniel Hackett: 0-0
PTS. FOR 15.6
PASSING Russell Wilson: 238-394-2,805-11-6-85.0
RUSHING Latavius Murray (2022): 136-567-4.2-5
RECEIVING Courtland Sutton: 52-688-13.2-1
PTS. AGAINST 18.1
SACKS DeShawn Williams: 4.5
INTs Justin Simmons: 5
TAKE/GIVE +3 (19/16)
PUNTING (NET) Corliss Waitman: 46.1 (41.4)
KICKING Brandon McManus: 90 (18/20 PAT; 24/32 FG)
QB RUSSELL WILSON aims for his 3rd in row with 100+ rating. Has 0 INTs in 3 of his past 4. Has 8 TDs (7 pass, 1 rush) vs. 2 INTs in 7 road starts this season. Needs 195 pass yards to join HOFer Peyton Manning as only QBs ever with 3,000+ pass yards in each of 1st 11 seasons. • RB LATAVIUS MURRAY led team with season-high 142 scrimmage yards (130 rush, 12 rec.) & had 5th rush TD of season last week, his 18th-career game with 100+ scrimmage yards & 1st this season. Has 60+ scrimmage yards in 4 of past 5. Is only player in NFL with 4+ rush TD in each of past 8 seasons. • RB MARLON MACK aims for 3rd in row with 60+ scrimmage yards & TD. Had rush TD in only career game at LAR (9/10/17 w/ Ind.). • WR JERRY JEUDY aims for 3rd in row with 7+ catches & 70+ rec. yards. Has 50+ rec. yards in 5 of his 6 road games this season. • WR COURTLAND SUTTON has 5+ catches & 65+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 4. • S JUSTIN SIMMONS had 2 INTs last week, 3rd-career game with 2 INTs & 2nd in 2022. Is only player in NFL with 2 INTs in multiple games this season. Has 5+ tackles in 3 of past 4 & TFL in 2 of past 3. Is only player with 5+ INTs in each of past 3 seasons. • S KAREEM JACKSON aims for 5th in row with 5+ tackles. • CB PAT SURTAIN II aims for 5th in row with PD & 3rd in row with INT. • LB JOSEY JEWELL aims for 4th in row with 10+ tackles. Has 59 tackles (11.8 per game) in his 5 road games this season. • LB ALEX SINGLETON has 6+ tackles in each of his past 6 games. • DL DESHAWN WILLIAMS had career-high 2.5 sacks last week. Has 2+ sacks in 2 of past 3.
LAST WEEK L 24-12 at Green Bay
COACH VS. OPP. Sean McVay: 1-0
PTS. FOR 16.4
PASSING Baker Mayfield (2022):153-262-1,654-8-7-76.1
RUSHING Cam Akers: 125-441-3.5-4
RECEIVING Tyler Higbee (TE): 56-482-8.6-1
PTS. AGAINST 22.9
SACKS Leonard Floyd: 7
INTs Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott: 2
TAKE/GIVE -5 (16/21)
PUNTING (NET) Riley Dixon: 48.8 (41.4)
KICKING Matt Gay: 86 (23/24 PAT; 21/23 FG)
QB BAKER MAYFIELD had TD pass vs. INT last week. Has 3 TD passes vs. INT for 87.8 rating in 2 career starts vs. Den. Has 90+ rating in 4 of his past 5 starts vs. AFC West. • RB CAM AKERS had season-high 100 scrimmage yards (65 rush, 35 rec.) last week, his 2nd-career game with 100+ scrimmage yards. Has 3 rush TDs in his past 2 at home & aims for his 3rd in row at home with rush TD. • TE TYLER HIGBEE had 1st rec. TD of season in Week 15, his 18th-career TD catch. Ranks 2nd among NFC TEs with 56 receptions in 2022, his 3rd-career season with 50+ catches. Has 482 rec. yards this season & aims for his 4th season in row with 500+ rec. yards. • WR VAN JEFFERSON has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 at home. • DL AARON DONALD is only player with 10+ TFL & 5+ sacks in each of past 9 seasons. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Den. with sack & TFL. • LB BOBBY WAGNER had 7 tackles & TFL last week. Has 118 tackles in 2022, his 11thstraight 100+ tackle season since entering NFL in 2012. Has 3 sacks & 4 TFL in his past 3 at home. • LB LEONARD FLOYD had 2 sacks last week, his 3rd game with 2 sacks in 2022 & 12th-career game with 2+ sacks. • DB JALEN RAMSEY had 3rd FF & 1st FR of season last week. Aims for his 9th in row with 6+ tackles. Is only player with 75+ tackles & 10+ PD in each of past 2 seasons. • DB TAYLOR RAPP aims for his 3rd in row with INT & 4th in row with PD. • DB NICK SCOTT led team with 8 tackles last week. Has 5+ tackles in 5 of his past 6. • DT GREG GAINES had 4th sack of season in Week 15.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-8) @ ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-10)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Cardinals lead all-time series, 11-10
STREAKS Cardinals have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME 11/10/19: Cardinals 27 at Buccaneers 30
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/15/17: Cardinals 38, Buccaneers 33
LAST WEEK L 34-23 vs. Cincinnati
COACH VS. OPP. Todd Bowles: 0-1
PTS. FOR 17.6
PASSING Tom Brady: 411-623-3,897-20-7-89.2
RUSHING Leonard Fournette: 159-568-3.6-3
RECEIVING Chris Godwin: 81-785-9.7-3
PTS. AGAINST 20.6
SACKS Vita Vea: 6.5
INTs Jamel Dean, Mike Edwards: 2
TAKE/GIVE -5 (13/18)
PUNTING (NET) Jake Camarda (R): 49.0 (41.5)
KICKING Ryan Succop: 95 (20/20 PAT; 25/30 FG)
QB TOM BRADY passed for 312 yards & 3 TDs in Week 15. Needs 103 pass yards to tie HOFer Peyton Manning (14) for most-career 4,000-yard seasons. Has 0 INTs in 4 of past 5 on road. Passed for 316 yards in his last game vs. Az. (9/16/12 w/ NE). • RB LEONARD FOURNETTE needs 22 scrimmage yards for 4th-career 1,000-yard season. Ranks 4th among RBs with 59 receptions in 2022. • RB RACHAAD WHITE (rookie) aims for his 3rd in row on road with 75+ scrimmage yards. • WR MIKE EVANS needs 112 rec. yards to become 1st player ever with 1,000+ rec. yards in each of his 1st 9 career seasons. Aims for his 3rd in row on SNF & 3rd in row at Az. with rec. TD. • WR CHRIS GODWIN had 8 catches for 84 yards & 3rd rec. TD of season last week. Has 5+ catches in 11 straight games, longest active streak in NFL. Has 3rd-career season with 80+ catches in 2022. • WR RUSSELL GAGE had 8 catches for 59 yards & career-high 2 rec. TDs last week. • LB LAVONTE DAVID had 3rd sack & 1st FF of season last week. Since 2012, ranks tied-3rd in NFL with 27 FFs. Has TFL in 3 of past 4 on road. Has 103 tackles in 2022, his 9th-career 100-tackle season. Had 2 FFs & FR-TD in last road meeting & aims for his 3rd in row vs. Az. with FF & FR. • LB DEVIN WHITE has 106 tackles this season, his 3rd-straight 100+ tackle season. • DT VITA VEA has career highs in sacks (6.5) & TFL (7) in 2022. • LB CARL NASSIB aims for his 3rd in row with PD & 4th in row with TFL. • CB CARLTON DAVIS had season-high 4 PD & 1st INT of season in Week 15. Has PD in 3 of his past 4 overall & 5 of his past 6 on road.
LAST WEEK L 24-15 at Denver
COACH VS. OPP. Kliff Kingsbury: 0-1
PTS. FOR 20.9
PASSING Colt McCoy: 90-132-780-1-3-76.6
RUSHING James Conner: 152-624-4.1-6
RECEIVING DeAndre Hopkins: 63-713-11.3-3
PTS. AGAINST 26.6
SACKS J.J. Watt: 9.5
INTs Budda Baker, Isaiah Simmons: 2
TAKE/GIVE -1 (17/18)
PUNTING (NET) Andy Lee: 47.3 (40.5)
KICKING Matt Prater: 59 (14/14 PAT; 15/17 FG)
QB COLT MCCOY passed for 221 yards in only career SNF start (12/20/20 w/ NYG). • QB TRACE MCSORLEY can make 1st career start in Week 16. • RB JAMES CONNER had 91 scrimmage yards (63 rush, 28 rec.) & 6th rush TD of season in Week 15. Aims for his 3rd in row at home with 100+ scrimmage yards. Aims for his 5th in row in primetime & 6th in row overall with TD. • WR DEANDRE HOPKINS ranks 2nd with 63 receptions & 4th with 713 rec. yards since Week 7. Has 7+ catches in 4 of his past 5. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. TB with 5+ catches & 3rd in row overall with 7+ receptions. • WR MARQUISE BROWN has 5+ catches & 65+ rec. yards in 3 of his 4 road games in 2022. • TE TREY MCBRIDE (rookie) had career-high 55 rec. yards in Week 15. • DE J.J. WATT had 7th-career game with 3 sacks last week, tied-most in NFL since 2012. Has 9.5 sacks in 2022 & aims for his 6th-career 10+ sack season. Aims for his 4th in row with TFL. Leads active players with 189 TFL & ranks 4th with 111.5 sacks. • DE ZACH ALLEN aims for his 3rd in row with sack. Is 1 of 2 (Matt Milano) with 10+ TFL (10) & 8+ PD (8) in 2022. • LB ISAIAH SIMMONS aims for his 3rd in row at home with PD. Has 5+ tackles in 7 of his past 8. • LB ZAVEN COLLINS has TFL in 5 of his past 6 & aims for his 4th in row with TFL. • S BUDDA BAKER had 7 tackles, 2 PD & INT last week. Has 102 tackles in 2022, 5thmost among DBs & his 4th-career 100+ tackle season. Had 9 tackles, 2 PD & FR in last meeting. • S JALEN THOMPSON led team with 9 tackles last week.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (8-6) @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-9-1)
REGULAR-SEASON SERIES HISTORY
LEADER Chargers lead all-time series, 17-10
STREAKS Chargers have won 3 of past 4
LAST GAME 9/8/19: Colts 24 at Chargers 30 (OT)
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/25/16: Colts 26, Chargers 22
LAST WEEK W 17-14 vs. Tennessee
COACH VS. OPP. Brandon Staley: 0-0
PTS. FOR 22.3
PASSING Justin Herbert: 407-603-4,019-21-9-91.5
RUSHING Austin Ekeler: 165-692-4.2-9
RECEIVING Joshua Palmer: 66-714-10.8-3
PTS. AGAINST 24.3
SACKS Khalil Mack: 7
INTs Bryce Callahan: 3
TAKE/GIVE +3 (18/15)
PUNTING (NET) JK Scott: 43.2 (41.6)
KICKING Cameron Dicker (R) (2022): 56 (14/14 PAT; 14/15 FG)
QB JUSTIN HERBERT has 300+ pass yards in 3 straight games, longest active streak in NFL. Has 12 TDs vs. 3 INTs with 95 rating in 7 road starts this season. Has 3+ TD passes & 105+ rating in 2 of 3 career starts on MNF. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 4,019 pass yards in 2022 & is 1st player ever with 4,000+ pass yards in each of 1st 3 seasons. • RB AUSTIN EKELER aims for 6th in row with 70+ scrimmage yards & 3rd in row with rush TD. Has TD in 4 of past 5. Had 154 scrimmage yards (96 rec., 58 rush) & 3 TDs (2 rec., 1 rush) in last meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row on MNF with TD. Ties for NFL lead with 14 TDs (9 rush, 5 rec.) & can become 2nd Charger ever (HOFer LaDainian Tomlinson) with 15+ TDs in consecutive seasons. • RB JOSHUA KELLEY had 2nd rush TD of season last week. • WR KEENAN ALLEN aims for 4th in row with 6+ catches & 85+ rec. yards. Has TD catch in each of his 2 road games this season. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Ind. with 100+ rec. yards & rec. TD. Has TD catch in 3 of his past 4 on MNF. • WR MIKE WILLIAMS can become 4th player in SB era with 100+ rec. yards in 6 straight road games. Aims for 3rd in row overall with 65+ rec. yards. • WR JOSHUA PALMER has 5+ catches in 4 of past 5. • LB KHALIL MACK had 5 tackles & PD in Week 15. Has TFL in 2 of past 3 on road. Is only player with 6+ sacks in each of past 8 seasons. Has sack in 4 of his past 5 on MNF. • LB DRUE TRANQUILL had 10 tackles, sack & 1st-career FF last week. Has 5+ tackles in all 14 games this season. Leads team with career-best 116 tackles in 2022. • LB KYLE VAN NOY aims for 3rd in row with sack. • S NASIR ADDERLEY had 2nd INT of season in Week 15. Has PD in 2 of past 3.
LAST WEEK L 39-36 at Minnesota
COACH VS. OPP. Jeff Saturday: 0-0
PTS. FOR 17.5
PASSING Matt Ryan: 309-461-3,057-14-13-83.9
RUSHING Zack Moss (2022): 48-203-4.2-0
RECEIVING Michael Pittman: 86-815-9.5-2
PTS. AGAINST 24.1
SACKS Yannick Ngakoue: 9.5
INTs Stephon Gilmore, Rodney Thomas: 2
TAKE/GIVE -12 (15/27)
PUNTING (NET) Matt Haack: 44.6 (40.5)
KICKING Chase McLaughlin: 97 (16/16 PAT; 27/32 FG)QB MATT RYAN passed for 182 yards & TD with 0 INTs last week. Has 8 TDs vs. 2 INTs with 99.7 rating in 5 home starts this season. Has 105+ rating in 3 of his past 4 starts vs. AFC West. Has 0 INTs in 5 of his past 6 on MNF. Has 3,057 pass yards in 2022 & is 8th QB in NFL history with 3,000+ pass yards in 13 straight seasons. • RB ZACK MOSS tied career high with 81 rush yards last week. • RB DEON JACKSON rushed for 55 yards & had 1st-career TD catch in Week 15. • WR MICHAEL PITTMAN led team with 10 catches for 60 yards last week, 3rd-career game with 10+ catches. Has 50+ rec. yards in 4 of past 5 overall & each of past 4 at home. Aims for his 3rd in row on MNF with TD catch. • WR ALEC PIERCE ranks 5th among rookies with 510 rec. yards. • DE YANNICK NGAKOUE had sack in Week 15. Has sack in 3 of his past 4 & 0.5+ sacks in 7 of his past 8. Needs 0.5 sacks for 3rd-career season with 10+ sacks. • DT DEFOREST BUCKNER had 2 TFL, sack & PD last week. Has TFL in 2 of past 3. Buckner & Ngakoue are 2 of 6 players with 6+ sacks in each of past 5 seasons. • LB ZAIRE FRANKLIN had 10 tackles & 2nd FF of season last week. Aims for 6th in row with 10+ tackles. Ranks 4th in NFL with career-high 140 tackles this season. • LB BOBBY OKEREKE led team with 12 tackles & had PD last week. Aims for 6th in row with 5+ tackles. Had TFL in last meeting. • CB STEPHON GILMORE had 7 tackles & season-high 3 PD last week, his 4th game this season with 2+ PD, tied 2nd-most in NFL. Aims for 4th in row with 6+ tackles & 3rd in row with 2+ PD. Has 2 PD & INT in 2 of his past 3 in primetime. • S JULIAN BLACKMON had 17-yard INT-TD last week, 1st-career TD.
PACKERS SIGN OL ELGTON JENKINS TO 4-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION
(AP) — Green Bay’s Elgton Jenkins has signed a contract extension that assures the Packers won’t lose one of the NFL’s most versatile offensive linemen to free agency.
The Packers announced the deal Friday. Terms weren’t disclosed, but a person familiar with the situation says Jenkins received a four-year extension with a base value of $68 million that could go up to $74 million.
“It’s a great day for us, a great day for Elgton,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur told reporters before Friday’s practice. “Obviously he’s earned it and he does it the right way. It’s always fun as a coach to see guys that get rewarded for not only their performance but what they do in the locker room and the leadership he brings. I can’t say enough great things about him.”
NFL Network and ESPN first reported the extension. Jenkins’ contract had been set to expire at the end of the season.
“Since the moment he walked into the building, Elgton has been a core member of this franchise while displaying an uncommon versatility, unselfishness and toughness,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous leader and teammate, and he has earned everything that has come to him.”
Jenkins has played his entire career with the Packers, who selected him out of Mississippi State in the second round of the 2019 draft.
The 2020 Pro Bowl selection has started multiple games at every position on the line other than right guard.
“I don’t think there’s a position up front he can’t play,” LaFleur said.
Jenkins primarily plays left guard, but he took over at left tackle for eight games last season to fill in for the injured David Bakhtiari. Jenkins played only those eight games last season before a torn anterior cruciate ligament knocked him out for the remainder of the year.
The knee injury caused Jenkins to miss the Packers’ opening game this season, but he has started all 12 games in which he has played. He started at right tackle for his first five games and has played left guard in his seven games. He missed a game on Oct. 30 against Buffalo with a foot injury.
“It obviously took him a little bit for him going I would say this year, which is to be expected, but he’s gotten better and better and better,” LaFleur said. “I think you’ve seen that as of late. Each and every week, he seems to get a little bit better.”
Jenkins has 33 career starts at left guard, eight at left tackle, six at right tackle and three at center. His performance on the line helped the Packers win three straight NFC North titles from 2019-21.
The Packers (6-8) are seeking their third consecutive victory Sunday at Miami (8-6). The Packers probably will need to win their final three games and get plenty of help to earn a fourth straight playoff appearance.
AP SOURCE: CONKLIN, BROWNS AGREE ON 4-YEAR, $60 MILLION DEAL
CLEVELAND (AP) Right tackle Jack Conklin has agreed to a four-year, $60 million contract extension to stay with the Cleveland Browns, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Friday.
Conklin, who was in the final year of a three-year, $42 million deal he got in 2020 as a free agent, will sign the deal in the coming days, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the agreement.
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, first told ESPN about the extension.
Conklin bounced back this season after suffering a torn patellar tendon in 2021. The 28-year-old pushed himself during rehab to get back and has started 12 games after sitting out the first two weeks.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Conklin has been a stabilizing force during his time with the Browns, who have made previous long-term investments on their line with five-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio (three years, $48 million) and right guard Wyatt Teller (four years, $56.8 million).
Conklin was recently named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner for his dedication to overcoming the injury as well as community involvement.
A two-time All-Pro, Conklin spent his first four seasons with Tennessee. He was a walk-on at Michigan State before being drafted eighth overall in 2016 by the Titans.
AARON DONALD UNLIKELY TO RETURN THIS SEASON, MCVAY SAYS
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Aaron Donald is unlikely to return to the Los Angeles Rams’ defense this season.
Donald will miss his fourth straight game with a high ankle sprain Sunday when the Rams (4-10) host the Denver Broncos.
Coach Sean McVay admitted Friday that his seven-time All-Pro lineman and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn’t expected to play in the final two meaningless games of the Rams’ disastrous Super Bowl title defense.
“He’s not cleared yet, and I don’t know that I see that changing in the next couple of weeks,” McVay said.
The 31-year-old Donald had never missed a game due to injury in his NFL career before this disappointing end to his ninth season. He has a career-low five sacks in 11 games, but was still named to his ninth Pro Bowl this week.
The Rams lost all but a mathematical hope of playoff contention during their recent six-game losing streak, yet they had been reluctant to rule out Donald for the season despite the obvious seriousness of his injury. Donald apparently had been interested in attempting to return even for meaningless games with the Rams, who have matched the 1999 Denver Broncos for the most losses in NFL history by a defending champ.
“Obviously, he’s a guy that has certainly earned the right where you talk to him” before ruling him out, McVay said of Donald.
McVay has made similar statements in previous weeks about Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp, who also incurred a high ankle sprain last month, and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has bruising on his spinal cord. Although both are not firmly ruled out for the season, both are highly unlikely to play in the Rams’ final three games.
ILLINOIS RB CHASE BROWN TO SKIP BOWL GAME, ENTER NFL DRAFT
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois running back Chase Brown has decided to skip the ReliaQuest Bowl and enter the NFL draft.
Brown had 1,643 yards rushing this season, tops among the Power Five conferences. He announced his future plans on Twitter on Friday.
Illinois (8-4) is scheduled to play No. 24 Mississippi State (8-4) on Jan. 2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, in a matchup of Big Ten and Southeastern conference teams.
“Through the highs and lows, my time at Illinois has been the best experience of my life,” said Brown, a junior who started his college career at Western Michigan in 2018. “I earned a degree, advanced as an athlete, and formed lifelong connections.”
Brown will finish his career as the second leading rusher at Illinois with 3,558 yards, trailing Robert Holcombe (4,105 yards from 1994-97). His rushing yardage this season is third all-time at the school behind Mikel Leshoure (1,697 in 2010) and Rashard Mendenhall (1,681 yards in 2007). He set a school single-season record this year with 11 100-yard games.
Brown thanked his teammates for pushing him and his coaches for believing in him. He also thanked Illinois fans.
“Your dedication, passion, and love for this team are greatly appreciated. It has been an honor and a memorable experience to play for you all,” he wrote. “I will always bleed orange & blue.”
NETS BEAT BUCKS, TIE LONGEST WIN STREAK IN BROOKLYN AT 8
NEW YORK (AP) Kevin Durant scored 24 points, and the Nets held Giannis Antetokounmpo scoreless in the fourth quarter to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-100 on Friday night, winning their eighth straight to match their longest winning streak since moving to Brooklyn a decade ago.
Nic Claxton made his first nine shots and finished 9 for 10 for a season high-tying 19 points for the Nets, who own the NBA’s longest current winning streak and have won 12 of their last 13 games.
“We just want to keep it up,” Nets guard Kyrie Irving said. “We don’t want to take our foot off the gas pedal.”
After scoring 91 points in the first half Wednesday against Golden State, the third-highest total in NBA history, the Nets had to win a different type of game against a Bucks team that came in with an NBA-leading 22-9 record.
Royce O’Neale scored 17 points and Ben Simmons had 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight of Brooklyn’s 30 assists.
“That shows us a locked-in team right there,” Durant said.
Claxton, Brooklyn’s 6-foot-11 center, came in as the league’s leading shooter at 73.8%.
Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, but didn’t take a shot in the fourth as neither he nor Durant reached their usual scoring averages that place both in the top six in the league.
Brook Lopez added 23 points, but the Bucks committed 18 turnovers that led to 24 points.
“We’ve got to take better care of the ball,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’ve got to make better decisions. We can’t just have possessions without shots. It’s on me. I think I’ve got to coach them better and we’ve got to work to take care of the ball better.”
The Nets started 8 of 10 from 3-point range and improved to an NBA-best 9-1 in December. They also won eight in a row in February 2021.
The Nets led 60-47 at halftime, with their 50% shooting nowhere near the 71% they had against Golden State while taking a 40-point lead on Wednesday. But it was an impressive effort against a Bucks team that came in second in the league, holding teams to about 45%.
The Bucks were within 10 nearly midway through the fourth quarter. But Irving, back after a one-game absence, had 14 points in the fourth after scoring four points on 1-of-9 shooting through three quarters and soon it was back over 20 again.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo appeared to hurt his hand in a fall but Budenholzer said an X-ray came back clean. … Khris Middleton missed his fourth straight game with right knee soreness. … Jevon Carter was in the starting lineup for the first time since Saturday. MarJon Beauchamp had filled the spot usually occupied by Middleton in Milwaukee’s last two games.
Nets: Joe Harris missed the game with right knee soreness. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Harris would have been the first sub off the bench before reporting pain.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY
Other than 2019, the season he missed with injury, Durant isn’t scheduled to play on Christmas Day for the first time since 2009. He would like a city rivalry matchup with the Knicks in the future but was aware the uncertainty created by his trade request in the summer made the Nets unattractive when this schedule was put together.
“I probably am responsible for us not playing on Christmas with what went on this summer,” he said this week. “But hey, it is what it is. We play on the 26th, that’s close enough.”
Bucks: At Boston on Sunday.
Nets: At Cleveland on Monday.
DEROZAN’S JUMPER GIVES BULLS 118-117 VICTORY OVER KNICKS
NEW YORK (AP) DeMar DeRozan’s jumper with less than a second to play gave the Chicago Bulls a 118-117 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.
DeRozan finished with 25 points in Chicago’s season-high third straight victory. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 33 points and Nikola Vucevic added 25.
“You don’t think too much about it,” DeRozan said of his jumper from near the foul line. “You just read the way they’re playing you. It’s second nature. I don’t care how many shots I missed before. That’s a brand new opportunity and you approach it that way.”
RJ Barrett scored a season-high 44 points for the Knicks. Julius Randle finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bulls’ comeback from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter was aided by poor foul shooting by the Knicks, who finished 15 for 26 from the line, including four misses in the final 1:06.
“I’m glad they missed,” DeRozan said. “The bad luck we’ve had all season of things not going our way, some went our way tonight and we capitalized on it.”
Barrett’s bucket with 29 seconds left put New York ahead by three before LaVine hit a driving layup with seven seconds left.
Jalen Brunson missed two free throws with six seconds to go, leaving the door open for DeRozan to hit the winning bucket.
“We’ve seen him do it through his whole career,” LaVine said. “If they double, I’m right there at the top waiting for him. If not, you get out of his way and let him do what he does.”
Quentin Grimes’ layup with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter had extended the Knicks’ biggest lead to 91-83. Chicago had its biggest lead at 29-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Immanuel Quickley added 15 points and Brunson finished with 12 points and nine assists for the Knicks.
“It wasn’t any one particular play. I just felt like we never really got our defense established and it was an offensive game,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s hard to slow those guys down once they get their confidence going like they did. We missed some free throws. Things can change real fast in this league.”
It was the Knicks’ second straight loss after eight consecutive wins.
Bulls: Only seven Bulls have started a game this season. Six have started at least 14 times, with Javonte Green (out with a sore right knee) only getting one.
Knicks: New York is now 8-9 at home this season. . Grimes had started 15 consecutive games before missing Wednesday’s game with Toronto due to a sprained right ankle. . Thibodeau initiated a successful coaches’ challenge early in the third quarter, his fourth overturn in five attempts this season.
Bulls: Host Houston on Monday.
Knicks: Host Philadelphia on Christmas Day.
MAGIC BEAT SPURS 133-113 FOR 8TH VICTORY IN 9 GAMES
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Cole Anthony had 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, Franz Wagner added 21 points and the Orlando Magic beat the San Antonio Spurs 133-113 on Friday night for their eighth victory in nine games.
Paolo Banchero had 18 points and six rebounds, and Mo Bamba broke open a close game with three 3-pointers in a 51-second span in the fourth quarter.
Keldon Johnson led San Antonio with 17 points. Tre Jones had 16 points and eight assists.
The Magic made 17 of 32 3-point shots and scored 72 points in the second half. Anthony, who came off the bench with 4:49 left in the first quarter, led everyone on both teams in points, rebounds and assists, finishing an assist shy of his first triple-double since high school.
“Obviously, he was flirting on the triple-double, but the one thing I love the most is he didn’t chase a stat,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He respected the game and just went after what we needed to win.”
“When it happens, it’s going to happen naturally. I wasn’t going to force it,” Anthony said. “I tried to distribute the ball and they made the shots. But all the credit goes to the team. They got me a lot of easy shots and they put me in position to get those rebounds.”
Johnson scored eight points and Doug McDermott hit a couple of 3-pointers in a 24-10 run that gave the Spurs a nine-point lead late in the first half. But the game got away from them quickly in the third quarter.
“We played two and three quarters quarters well,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, “but we have a hard time putting together a 48-minute game. We saw that when the defense collapsed at the end of the third quarter into the fourth when they outscored us in a 10-minute period 46-20. So we’ve seen it before and we saw it tonight.”
Banchero had a 3-pointer and a layup and set up Wendell Carter and Wagner with assists to help the Magic regain the lead late in the third quarter, and Bamba and Anthony quickly stretched it to double figures early in the fourth.
Bamba and Anthony scored 14 points in a 17-1 run that turned a two-point lead into an 18-point advantage with 8:31 remaining.
Spurs: F Jeremy Sochan and C Jakob Poeltl played the second half in foul trouble. … Keldon Johnson played 31 minutes after missing two games with a tight right hamstring. … G Blake Wesley (MCL strain) was back with the team for a second game after being brought up from the G League, but did not play.
Magic: Carter played for the first time since Nov. 18, having missed 18 games due to right plantar fascia. He played 19 minutes, contributing eight points and four rebounds. “The sky is the limit for this team,” Carter said. “I’m just excited to be part of it.” … G Gary Harris had nine points in 21 minutes after missing 11 games with a right hamstring strain. … Wagner had a plus/minus of plus-36, and Anthony had a plus-22.
Spurs: Host Utah on Monday night.
Magic: Host Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
YOUNG, MURRAY POWER HAWKS PAST PISTONS, 130-105
ATLANTA (AP) Trae Young had 26 points and 13 assists, Dejounte Murray added 26 points, and the Atlanta Hawks used a dominant third quarter to beat the struggling Detroit Pistons 130-105 on Friday night.
Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 19 points, and Clint Capela, returning after missing the last three games with a right calf strain, finished with 10 rebounds and 10 points for the Hawks, who have won three of four to improve to 17-16. They began the night ninth in the Eastern Conference and are 11-6 at home.
“We were still contesting and making it tough on them, but they’re pros and they kept making plays,” Young said. “We just kept fighting and playing hard, and we ended up stretching out the lead in that third quarter and helping us get this win.”
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 for the NBA-worst Pistons, who have lost five straight.
Atlanta went on a 17-3 run over a four-minute stretch of the third quarter to take its first double-digit lead at 79-69 on Murray’s runner in the lane. Detroit never threatened the rest of the way.
The Pistons were outscored 35-18 in the third. Early in the fourth, Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a 3 on a fast break, Onyeka Okongwu followed with a turnaround jumper on the right baseline and Bogdanovic knocked down a right-wing 3 to push the lead to 105-81. Atlanta finished a 21-2 run over a six-minute stretch of the third and the fourth on Griffin’s fast-break dunk.
“I think overall we played a great first half,” said Detroit guard Killian Hayes, who finished with 17 points. “We had a few turnovers, and the ball was moving, but the first half wasn’t the issue. I think the third quarter, when they made that run, it was tough to come back from that and then the game was pretty much done from there.”
Young, who didn’t play in the final period, ended a three-game streak in which he scored at least 30 points. He connected on a season-high seven 3s on Wednesday in a 110-108 loss to Chicago, and he scored 15 points in the third against Detroit.
The Pistons shot 27.3% on 3s, the 13th time Atlanta has held an opponent to worse than 30% beyond the arc. The Hawks came into the game tied for the league lead in that statistic.
The Hawks went up for the first time in the second half on John Collins’ fast-break dunk early in the third and they didn’t trail again. Young hit a straightaway 3 and De’Andre Hunter knocked down a left-wing 3 to cap a 13-0 run for a 75-66 lead, and the Pistons called timeout.
“In the NBA, anybody can be beaten on any given night, so it just shows that we wanted it,” Murray said. “We executed, we took care of the ball, we played together and we won a great game.”
Detroit’s biggest lead was eight in the first half, and the Pistons led 63-60 at intermission.
“Our third quarters we’re continuing to try to give an opportunity to the young guys to come out in the second half,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s evident we’re not coming out with the right approach, but again we’re here to grow those guys but not to the detriment of losing our spirit, losing our togetherness and losing the games the way we’re losing them.”
Pistons: F Isaiah Livers stayed in Detroit with a right shoulder sprain, but Casey said he should rejoin the team next week. Livers has missed 11 straight games. … Detroit began the game leading the NBA with 48.2 bench points since Dec. 1 but had its reserves outscored 51-30.
Hawks: Hunter twisted his left ankle in the second quarter but stayed in the game and finished with nine points in 27 minutes. … Bogdanovic began the game as the only player since Dec. 9 to hit at least 28 3s while shooting at least 50% beyond the arc, but he went 3 for 11 against Detroit.
Pistons: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Hawks: At Indiana on Tuesday.
BROWN’S 4TH QUARTER CARRIES CELTICS PAST T-WOLVES, 121-109
BOSTON (AP) Jaylen Brown scored 23 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to help the Boston Celtics pull away for a 121-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night that halted their season-worst three-game losing streak.
Jayson Tatum had 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists, Derrick White scored 18 and Al Horford finished with 17 points for the Celtics.
“It felt good. It felt really good,” Brown said of his fourth quarter. “Obviously, I felt like it was just a matter of time. The first three quarters is probably one of the ugliest stretches of basketball in my career.”
Boston won for only the second time in seven games but moved back atop the NBA standings.
“The second half last game and the fourth quarter are the best version of our team,” Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla said.
Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 30 points, D’Angelo Russell scored 21 and Jaden McDaniels had 17. It was Minnesota’s second consecutive loss.
“We’ve got to up our intensity, physicality and everything, execution in the fourth quarter,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “That’s where they really came through.”
Boston point guard Marcus Smart had 10 assists, seven rebounds and six points after missing a game with an illness, but center Robert Williams III was out sick.
Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert was held to eight points, but he grabbed 12 rebounds in his second game after sitting out three with a sprained left ankle.
Brown had a breakaway jam and followed that with a layup, giving the Celtics a 108-98 lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
After a free throw by Gobert, Brown nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing and Horford connected on one 31 seconds later, making it 114-99.
Horford’s buzzer-beating 3 from right in front of his team’s bench gave Boston an 88-86 edge entering the fourth.
Following a poor performance Wednesday when Boston fell behind by 30 in the opening half before a comeback bid against Indiana came up short, Mazzulla issued a bit of a challenge.
“We have a choice to make: What team do we want to be?” he said after that game.
Boston responded with a solid start before Minnesota went on a 22-7 run.
“From the jump we were physical, we were tough, we were connected,” Mazzulla said.
Timberwolves: Russell, in his 10th NBA season, surpassed 8,000 career points. … Naz Reid was whistled for a technical when he got up in Brown’s face after he fouled him on a basket. Reid also got a Flagrant 1 for being in Tatum’s landing space in the third quarter. . Finch got a technical in the fourth.
Celtics: White scored nine points in a three-minute stretch early in the third that erased a nine-point deficit. … Tatum entered the arena just before the starting lineups were announced and played with a small wrap to support his left thumb. . Brown went down hard midway through the second but stayed in. “I took a shot to the face and had some blood coming out,” Brown said. “It was just an aggressive game. Give credit to Minnesota. They came out and were trying to take advantage of our energy and how we’ve been playing the last couple of games.”
Timberwolves: At the Miami Heat on Monday night, the second stop on a four-game road swing.
Celtics: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Christmas.
DONCIC SCORES 50, MAVERICKS EDGE ROCKETS 112-106
HOUSTON (AP) Luka Doncic scored a season-high 50 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks held on to beat the Houston Rockets 112-106 on Friday night.
Doncic, who also had 10 assists and eight rebounds, was 17 of 30 from the field, including 6 of 12 on 3-pointers. It was Doncic’s second career 50-point game.
“Sometimes you know you’re going to make more shots than usual,” Doncic said. “When you feel hot, you feel like everything will go in.”
He scored a career-high 51 against the Clippers on Feb. 10, 2022.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd called Doncic’s 50 points “a great Christmas gift on a long road trip.”
“Luka is Luka,” Kidd said. “He’s the best player in the world. He showed that tonight, carrying the load offensively. . I don’t know what else to say about him. He was incredible tonight.”
Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans each scored 11 points for Dallas, which shot 45% and made 16 of 44 3s.
Jabari Smith Jr. finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Jalen Green added 23 points and eight rebounds, and Alperen Sengun had 19 points and eight rebounds for Houston, which lost its fifth straight.
“Just coming in and trying to get back on track, get back to playing well,” Smith said. “Our record’s not well, but we know when we play good and we know when we play bad. These last couple games we feel like we haven’t played like us, so the focus was getting back to us and playing how we play.”
Kevin Porter Jr. scored 14 points, and Kenyon Martin Jr. had 10 for the Rockets, who shot 46%.
Houston coach Stephen Silas said Houston’s defensive game plan was good, but there was “just too much Luka.”
“I’m not sure that he made an easy shot,” Silas said. “We made every shot hard, and that’s the greatness of a great player. . That’s what Luka does.”
Tied at 94 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining, the Mavs used an 11-3 run to open up an eight-point lead on a 3-pointer by Doncic, who blew a kiss to the crowd. The Rockets responded with seven straight points to cut the lead to 105-104 on Sengun’s layup with 3:13 left.
After Bertans hit a 3 to up the lead to four, Smith cut the lead to two with a jumper with a 1 1/2 minutes remaining. The two teams traded turnovers and missed shots before Doncic nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to give the Mavs a five-point lead.
“We swing the ball, and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) redrives it from the corner and finds Luka wide open,” Kidd said of Doncic’s 3 to seal the win. “Luka does the rest. When you’re hot like that, sometimes you don’t have to move the ball. Someone else did all the work for him, and the ball found him.”
Houston erased a 16-point, second-quarter deficit, outscoring the Mavs 33-15 over a nine-minute span of the second and third quarters to take a 69-67 lead on a 3-pointer by Smith with 6:15 remaining in the third.
Mavericks: Dorian Finney-Smith missed his second straight game with a right adductor strain. . Kemba Walker was out of the lineup Friday night due to left knee injury recovery. . Reggie Bullock left the game in the third quarter with a neck strain.
Rockets: Garrison Mathews (illness) returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the last three games. He was scoreless in 12 minutes. . Jae’Sean Tate (ankle) could return soon, Silas said. “I don’t have a timetable, days or whatever, but it looks like it’s getting closer to days than weeks,” Silas said. . Eric Gordon was out of the lineup Friday with a bruised left thumb.
Mavericks: Host the Lakers on Sunday to begin a three-game homestand.
Rockets: At Chicago on Monday to start a three-game road trip.
MURPHY SCORES 23, PELICANS BEAT THUNDER IN OT WITHOUT ZION
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Trey Murphy III scored 23 points and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of leading scorer Zion Williamson and a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-125 in overtime on Friday night.
Murphy and CJ McCollum each hit a 3-pointer in the first two minutes of overtime to stake the Pelicans to a four-point lead, and Oklahoma City never recovered.
“This is a relentless group,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “We couldn’t be more proud of what they’re doing. … Tonight was a tough back-to-back, but we just gutted it out. Sometimes you have to do that in this league.
“It’s truly a blessing to have guys bought in to what we’re trying to accomplish. We continue to tell them to stay ready and keep working and their opportunity will come.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 44 points to go with 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, which had a three-game winning streak end.
The Thunder had a chance while trailing 128-125 when McCollum turned the ball over on an inbounds play with 8.7 seconds left, but they missed a pair of 2-point shots.
New Orleans’ Jaxson Hayes, who scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, missed two free throws with 2.7 seconds left. On the second, the rebound caromed toward midcourt, where Gilgeous-Alexander corralled it. His 40-foot 3-point attempt banged off the rim as time expired.
“I thought we did a great job of putting ourselves in position,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “The first half, we were completely out of rhythm, with not a lot of energy. I thought we came out at halftime and … hung in there and stuck with it and got on a nice run. We worked to get control of the game. I thought they just out-executed us in the fourth quarter at both ends of the floor – coaches, players, everything.”
Naji Marshall and McCollum each scored 17 points for the Pelicans, who have followed a four-game skid with wins on back-to-back nights. Williamson also sat out Thursday’s win over San Antonio due to health and safety protocols.
During the third quarter, Oklahoma City steadily cut what had been a 21-point second-quarter deficit and the Thunder tied the game at 80-80 on a 3-pointer by Tre Mann with 11:38 left in the game. That was part of a 12-3 run to open the fourth quarter, which put the Thunder ahead 89-83.
Oklahoma City led 105-96 after two free throws by Gilgeous-Alexander with 4:53 left, but didn’t have a field goal during the final 2:57 of regulation, allowing New Orleans to rally. Herbert Jones’ basket with 25.4 seconds left tied the game at 112-all. Mann missed on a driving layup attempt in the final seconds.
“We just picked up our energy and our defensive effort (in the final minutes),” Green said. “They came out in the second half and they were playing with more force and more pace. I thought the last 4-5 minutes of (regulation), we did a better job of trying to take the ball out of (Gilgeous-Alexander’s) hands.”
After going 2 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half, the Thunder finished 13 of 35 from behind the arc. New Orleans finished 13 of 37 from 3-point range.
New Orleans went 8 of 21 from 3-point range in the first half and led by as many as 21 points after trailing by six early. The Pelicans were up 64-46 at halftime.
Pelicans: In addition to Williamson, New Orleans was without starter Larry Nance Jr., who missed a second straight game due to right Achilles soreness. … McCollum, a game-time decision to play due to right calf soreness, started and played 36 minutes. … Jones scored 15 points.
Thunder: Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered the game leading the NBA in free-throw shooting at 93%, missed both ends of a two-shot opportunity in the second quarter. … Josh Giddey had 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Aleksej Pokusevski added 17 points. … The Thunder recalled Mann and Jaylin Williams from the Oklahoma City Blue of the G League.
Pelicans: Host Indiana on Monday.
Thunder: Host San Antonio on Tuesday.
MURRAY, JOKIC LEAD NUGGETS TO 120-107 WIN OVER TRAIL BLAZERS
DENVER (AP) Jamal Murray returned to the lineup with 25 points and a season-high 12 assists, Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 11 assists, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-107 on Friday night.
Murray, who finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double, sat out Tuesday’s win over Memphis with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, and the four-day break seemed to reinvigorate him. He scored 19 points in the second half as Denver erased a six-point deficit early in the third quarter to take a double-digit lead.
“The scoring, Jamal does that in his sleep. The rebounding, eight boards tonight, the playmaking, 12 assists, three turnovers – that’s outstanding,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “When you score like that, you rebound, your playmaking, you defend, that makes you a hell of a player on a really good team.”
Murray, who logged a season-high 39 minutes, said he’s still working his way back from tearing the ACL in his left knee on April 12, 2021.
“I’ve accepted it,” Murray said. “It’s you guys that haven’t accepted it because every time I have a bad game, `Oh, my goodness. Oh, he’s not shooting well.’ I know I’m going to have those days.”
Michael Porter Jr. scored 18 points in his first game after missing 13 with a left heel strain, an injury he said is unrelated to previous back injuries that have been an issue since college and early in his NBA career. He hit Denver’s first basket and scored five quick points.
Porter added five rebounds in 27 minutes to help the Nuggets stay atop the Western Conference standings.
“Michael got on the floor for a loose ball,” Malone said. “He was flying around out there, and so when you’re doing that and you are 6-foot-10 and you are long, you have an impact.”
Damian Lillard had 34 points and eight assists, Jerami Grant scored 20 and Jusuf Nurkic added 11 before fouling out for the Blazers, who ended their six-game road swing with three straight losses. Portland was 2-4 on the trip.
“I think going back 2-4 is a missed opportunity. I feel like we underachieved,” Lillard said. “We could’ve walked away from this with a much better ending.”
The Blazers rallied from 13 down in the second quarter to lead by seven early in the third. Murray scored 12 points in 6:20 of the third, including a pair of 3-pointers, to help Denver build a 93-80 lead heading into the fourth.
Jokic’s three-point play made it 102-87. A 3-pointer from Lillard got the Blazers within seven, but they couldn’t get any closer.
“There’s no excuse and I can’t really put my finger on it,” coach Chauncey Billups said. “We have these really good stretches in all these games, but it’s hard for us to sustain.”
Trail Blazers: F Justise Winslow (left ankle sprain) was inactive. He was injured in Wednesday’s loss at Oklahoma City. “We still don’t know how long, but he’s walking around on crutches right now,” Billups said. … The team’s flight home was delayed out of Denver.
Nuggets: Murray’s career high in assists is 15, accomplished in December 2018 against Dallas. … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 14 points and Aaron Gordon 13 to put all five starters in double figures.
Trail Blazers: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
BANE RETURNS, GRIZZLIES ROUT BOOKER-LESS SUNS 125-100
PHOENIX (AP) Jaren Jackson Jr. had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Desmond Bane scored 17 points in his return and the Memphis Grizzlies took advantage of Phoenix star Devin Booker’s absence to rout the Suns 125-100 on Friday night.
Phoenix played without Booker because of groin soreness for the third straight game, with the Suns losing the last two. In his last game, Booker scored a season-high 58 points in a home victory over New Orleans.
Tied with Denver for the Western Conference lead at 20-11, the Grizzlies had their starting lineup from last season on the floor for the first time this season. Bane played 24 minutes after missing 18 games because of a sprained right big toe.
Memphis scored the first eight points and led 15-4 when Phoenix called its first timeout. The Grizzlies were up 39-20 after 12 minutes after dropping the first two games on a four-game road swing.
“Those guys have played a lot together,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “They set a tone, they take pride in that. We definitely needed to play better coming out of the gate, especially on the road. Obviously, offensively the execution was great, but it really started with our defense.”
Brandon Clarke had 24 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Memphis. Dillon Brooks added 16 points, Ja Morant had 12 points and 11 assists and Steven Adams grabbed 11 rebounds. The Grizzlies dominated the boards, 53-35.
The teams will meet again Tuesday night in Memphis.
“We fear nobody. We got a different type of swag to us,” Brooks said. “It’s great to have everybody back, it’s great to win like this. We got these guys (Tuesday) so we’re going to be ready.”
Deandre Ayton led Phoenix (19-14) with 18 points. Duane Washington Jr. had 14 points in 19 minutes, and Landry Shamet – who scored a career-high 31 points in a loss to Washington on Tuesday night – added 13 points and a team-high five rebounds. Chris Paul had 10 points.
“We got to get back chasing something and right now I feel like the prey,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “I don’t like that feeling. I told our guys the same thing. We got to get our edge back right from the jump.
“They just put their hands on us. Their mentality was we may lose the game, but we are not going to lose the fight and they won both tonight.”
Shamet agreed with his coach.
“The basketball stuff doesn’t matter if you don’t have that kind of physicality, that approach that you need to win games in the NBA,” he said. “We were a step slow and they just played with more energy and purpose than we did.”
Before the game, Williams said Booker has been shooting the last couple of days and is progressing a bit, but he “didn’t want to speculate” if Booker would return on Christmas at Denver.
Grizzlies: Coach Taylor Jenkins said before the game of Bane’s return: “Real proud of what he’s done the last couple weeks. He’s progressed ahead of schedule.” … Morant, averaging 27.0 points per game entering Friday, was 4 of 14 from the floor and missed both 3-point attempts. … Memphis is 9-8 against fellow Western Conference teams.
Suns: Jock Landale (concussion protocol) and Josh Okogie (right hip) returned to the Phoenix rotation. “Just having big depth is a plus,” Williams said. Cameron Payne remains sidelined by a sprained right foot. … The Suns play their next six games on the road.
Grizzlies: At Golden State on Sunday.
Suns: At Denver on Sunday night.
KYLE KUZMA SCORES 32 POINTS, WIZARDS BEAT KINGS 125-111
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Kyle Kuzma scored 32 points and the Washington Wizards beat the Sacramento Kings 125-111 on Friday night to end a six-game trip.
“We got it done tonight,” Kuzma said. “We played good tonight. . I put my heart out there every night. I come ready to play. I have something to prove to myself every single night.”
The Wizards had lost 10 of their last 11. They snapped a 10-game losing streak with a victory at Phoenix on Tuesday night, then fall at Utah on Thursday night.
“It was our defense,” Wizards coach Wes Unsend Jr. said. “It allowed us to get out there and run. It’s one of the things we preached all year. If we get stops, we have the freedom to push.”
Bradley Beal added 24 points for Washington (13-21) and Rui Hachimura had 21.
“If we think we’re just going to show up and go through the motions because our record is what it is, we’re going to be in for a rude awakening,” Kings coach Mike Brown said.
Domantas Sabonis had his second consecutive triple-double for Sacramento (17-14) with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. De’Aaron Fox scored 26 points, and Malik Monk had 16.
“We just had too many possessions where one or two people touched the ball,” Monk said. “Us playing terrible on defense made bad shots happen. We just played terrible tonight.”
Washington opened the second quarter on a 28-9 run and led by 30. The Wizards outscored the Kings 70-50 in the paint.
“The Kings aren’t the greatest defensive team and we knew that we could get into the paint and exploit a little bit, especially playing big,” Kuzma said. “It really allowed us to have some different mismatches out there and really attack their paint.”
Wizards: F Deni Avdija was ruled out because of lower back soreness. . G Delon Wright made his first appearance since Oct. 25 after dealing with a hamstring sprain.
Kings: Sabonis left the game with three minutes left and was holding his hand. He went to the locker room and didn’t return.
Wizards: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Kings: Host Denver on Tuesday night.
HORNETS OVERCOME LEBRON’S COMEBACK, HOLD OFF LAKERS 134-130
LOS ANGELES (AP) Gordon Hayward got the tiebreaking layup on a goaltending call against LeBron James with 6.3 seconds to play, and the Charlotte Hornets held off the Los Angeles Lakers 134-130 Friday night for only their second victory in 11 games.
James scored 18 of his 34 points while leading a stirring fourth-quarter comeback by the Lakers, who erased a 16-point deficit in the second half. James scored or assisted on 11 straight points in the final 2:30, and he drove for the tying layup with 30 seconds left.
After Hayward got an offensive rebound and drew the goaltending call, James fed Dennis Schroder for an open corner 3-point attempt. The German guard missed, and P.J. Washington hit two free throws to ice the Hornets’ second win on their six-game trip, matching their highest-scoring performance of the season.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” said Mason Plumlee, who had 11 points and eight rebounds. “They’ve got a lot of good players, but we answered the call.”
Washington scored 24 points, while LaMelo Ball had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists against his hometown team. Terry Rozier also scored 23 in his return from a two-game absence with a bruised right hip as the Hornets earned their first road win over the Lakers in five tries since January 2018.
“Obviously, had our chances tonight,” James said. “I won’t say (it’s) disappointing, because I’m not disappointed in our effort. I’m not disappointed in the guys. You just want to win the game that’s right there in front of you.”
Austin Reaves scored 20 points and Russell Westbrook had 17 for Los Angeles, which has lost three straight with rapidly declining defense in the absence of Anthony Davis.
The eight-time All-Star big man missed his fourth consecutive game with what the Lakers earlier Friday called a stress injury in his right foot. There is no timetable for the return of Davis, who was playing superbly before his latest major injury in three seasons of miserable health.
“It’s hard when you lose someone like AD,” Reaves said. “He’s the centerpiece of what we do defensively. Since he went out, the defensive rating hasn’t been great. It’s just too many points. You’re not going to win many games like that.”
Thomas Bryant had eight points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers before leaving the court with 3:16 to play while holding his right shoulder. Bryant, who returned to watch the final possessions, has been solid as Los Angeles’ starting center in Davis’ absence.
Coach Darvin Ham had no update on Bryant before the Lakers’ postgame flight to Dallas.
Hornets: Dennis Smith Jr. remained out since Nov. 23 with a left ankle sprain, but he is close to a return. … Charlotte coach Steve Clifford and Ham were assistants on the Lakers’ staff during the 2012-13 season.
Lakers: Reaves (ankle) and Westbrook (foot) returned after missing LA’s last game. … The Lakers drew a sellout crowd for the first time since Nov. 6.
Restricted free agent Miles Bridges attended the game and sat directly under the basket on the Hornets’ end of the court. He gave high-fives to his former teammates during pregame warmups.
Bridges, who played his first four NBA seasons with Charlotte, pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge last month in Los Angeles, receiving probation and no jail time. ESPN reported earlier Friday that the Hornets are closing in on a new contract with Bridges, who is likely to receive a lengthy suspension that can’t begin until he is signed by a team.
“Yeah, we’re not going to comment on that right now,” Clifford said when asked before the game about the report.
Hornets: At Portland on Monday.
Lakers: At Dallas on Sunday to open a five-game road trip concluding in Charlotte on Jan. 2.
AP SOURCE: OF CONFORTO, GIANTS AGREE TO $36M, 2-YEAR DEAL
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Outfielder Michael Conforto has agreed to a $36 million, two-year contract with the San Francisco Giants, a deal that includes an opt out after the first season, a person with direct knowledge of the pact said Friday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract is pending a successful physical. Conforto missed all of last season following right shoulder surgery.
The Giants lost out on shortstop Carlos Correa earlier in the week when a concern with his surgically repaired right ankle arose during the medical evaluation process. Correa’s $350 million, 13-year deal fell through, and he agreed instead with the New York Mets on a $315 million, 12-year contract.
San Francisco went 81-81 this year and missed the playoffs after winning a franchise-record 107 games and the NL West in 2021.
The Giants should have a talented, experienced outfield in 2023. Mitch Haniger agreed to a $43.5 million, three-year contract this month, and versatile Mike Yastrzemski returns.
Conforto had surgery performed in April by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The 29-year-old Conforto spent his first 6 1/2 major league seasons with the New York Mets before becoming a free agent after the 2021 season. He turned down an $18.4 million qualifying offer from the Mets in November last year.
Agent Scott Boras said Conforto got hurt while training in January 2022 during Major League Baseball’s labor lockout, which ended in March.
D-BACKS TRADE VARSHO TO BLUE JAYS, RECEIVE MORENO, GURRIEL
PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired one of the top prospects in baseball, adding catcher Gabriel Moreno and veteran outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in a Friday swap that sent slugger Daulton Varsho to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 22-year-old Moreno made the majors last season with the Blue Jays, hitting .319 with a homer in 69 at-bats. The 29-year-old Gurriel is a five-year veteran who hit .291 with five homers and 32 doubles this year.
The Blue Jays get the versatile Varsho, who was arguably the best player on the Diamondbacks last season. The 26-year-old Varsho hit a career-high 27 homers in 2022. He is an excellent defender in the outfield who also has the ability to play catcher.
Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said it was difficult to give up Varsho, who had become a leader in the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse despite his relative youth.
“To get good players, we had to give up a good player,” Hazen said. “But we feel like we acquired two good players. Two good players who fit a very specific need for us.”
Moreno and Gurriel are both right-handed hitters, which allows the D-backs to balance their left-handed heavy lineup.
Varsho is a left-handed hitter and was part of Arizona’s group of young, talented outfielders that includes Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, Stone Garrett and Pavin Smith. The D-backs finished with a 74-88 record last season and are trying to compete in the loaded NL West, which includes the big-spending Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Trading Varsho was a steep cost, but Hazen said it was the best way to continue to improve the roster and try to close the gap.
“I don’t think we’re sitting in a place where one player, or one free agent signing is going to take us where we need to go to compete,” Hazen said. “You see what’s happening in the National League right now. We still have a lot of work to do.”
The Blue Jays had the opposite problem of the Diamondbacks: a heavily right-handed lineup. The addition of Varsho should give them more left-handed balance in the middle of the order.
The trade for Varsho is the latest offseason move for the busy Blue Jays, who also have added outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, starting pitcher Chris Bassitt and reliever Erik Swanson. Toronto loses Moreno but has some depth at catcher with All-Star Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen.
Gurriel is the brother of Astros slugger Yuli Gurriel. Varsho is the son of former major league outfielder Gary Varsho.
To make room on the 40-man roster for both players, the D-backs designated catcher Ali Sanchez for assignment.
BLACKHAWKS BEAT BLUE JACKETS 5-2, HALT 8-GAME LOSING STREAK
CHICAGO (AP) Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a goal and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks ended an eight-game skid with a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Toews and Kane, the remaining pillars of Chicago’s Stanley Cup teams from 2010, 2013 and 2015, played their 1,000th game together last Sunday. Both are in the final seasons of eight-year contracts and their future with the rebuilding Blackhawks is uncertain.
Toews assisted on Kane’s opening goal of the game. Kane set up Toews’ power-play score in the third.
Chicago is mired in last place, but its marquee stars savored this one.
“Given the situation of where our team is at and where the two of us are in our careers … it’s definitely on your mind a little bit more to enjoy every moment,” Toews said. “So it’s nice to make a couple of plays together like we did for old times sake and get us a win.”
Alex Stalock made 27 saves in his return from a concussion to help last-place Chicago snap an 11-game home losing streak (0-10-1) and earn just its second win in 18 games overall (2-15-1). Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou and Taylor Raddysh also scored as the Blackhawks won at the United Center for the first time since Nov. 3.
Stalock sustained a concussion early in a Nov. 1 game against the Islanders when New York forward Casey Cizikas plowed into with the 35-year-old journeyman goalie and sent him flying into the right post.
“A good first period by our group,” Stalock said. “I got to get back into it and back up to speed. I thought we played a great game. We played fast.”
Marcus Bjork had a goal and and assist and Kirill Marchenko scored on a power play as the Blue Jackets lost their sixth straight. Columbus has scored only nine times during its slide.
Blue Jackets rookie Daniil Tarasov allowed four goals on Chicago’s first 20 shots before being replaced by Joonas Korpisalo. Tarasov made his fifth straight start as slumping No. 1 goalie Elvis Merzlikins sat out with an undisclosed illness.
Kane ended an eight-game drought with his fifth goal as the Blackhawks opened the scoring in a game for first time since their last win, at the Rangers on Dec. 3.
“It’s always nice to produce,” Kane said. “Even after the last game you started feeling good that hopefully things are coming.”
Chicago opened the scoring for only the sixth time this season when Kane snapped a wrister that sailed between Tarasov’s pads with 6:31 left in the first. Set up by Kane, a wide-open Domi made it 2-0 with a one-timer from the right circle 2 1/2 minutes later.
Athanasiou and Raddysh scored on prime chances from the slot 53 seconds apart early in the second to put Chicago in charge 4-0 and prompt Columbus coach Brad Larsen to pull Tarasov.
After Bjork narrowed it to 4-2 early in the third, Chicago killed a 59-second Columbus 5-on-3 power play.
“We chased it until about the 10-minute mark of the second,” Larsen said. “Then we started to play. But it’s too late.”
Toews connected from the crease during a power play midway through the period to ice it.
Columbus D Adam Boqvist played after missing 24 games broken foot. . Korpisalo returned after sitting out six games with a lower-body injury and stopped 16 of 17 shots in relief. . Stalock got off to a solid start with the Blackhawks, going 3-2-1 with a 2.93 goals-against average before his concussion. Originally slated to be Chicago’s backup, he was pressed into additional action after Petr Mrazek suffered a groin injury in the fourth game of the season. . Cizikas was fined $5,000 by the NHL after colliding with Stalock.
Blue Jackets: Host Buffalo on Tuesday.
Blackhawks: At Carolina on Tuesday.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS RALLY TO BEAT BLUES 5-4 IN SHOOTOUT
LAS VEGAS (AP) Mark Stone scored the winner in a shootout to cap a strong game for the Vegas Golden Knights’ top line in a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
The Knights improved to 7-1 in overtime and 3-0 in shootouts.
Stone and fellow top-liner Chandler Stephenson scored in the shootout. Vladimir Tarasenko put one in the net for the Blues.
St. Louis heads home after a strong start to their five-game trip that finished with back-to-back-losses. The Blues had won their first three games.
Stephenson finished with a goal and three assists, extending his points streak to seven games (three goals, 11 assists), the longest of his career. He leads the Knights with 27 assists and 35 points, and is in position to surpass his career highs set last season of 43 assists and 64 points.
He was part of a Knights’ top line that, in the past two games, has combined for six goals and nine assists. Stone has three goals and an assist, and Michael Amadio has two goals and two assists.
Amadio also had a three-point game Friday, with a goal and two assists. It’s his second three-point performance with the other coming March 4 against Anaheim.
Stone and Alex Pietrangelo each had a goal and an assist.
Tarasenko had a goal and two assists for the Blues, and Pavel Buchnevich (goal, assist) and Torey Krug (two assists) each had two points.
Pietrangelo put the Knights on the scoreboard just 5:22 into the game. He took Stephenson’s pass near the blue line, skated in front of the crease and sent a backhand shot into the net.
The teams combined for five goals in the second period. Buchnevich, Tarasenko and Justin Faulk scored for the Blues and Stone and Amadio for the Knights to make the score 3-all going into the third.
Tarasenko’s goal came on a power play, ending a streak of eight consecutive penalty kills for Vegas. The Knights also had killed off 12 of the previous 13, and had outscored opponents 2-0 over prior four games while short-handed.
Noel Acciari redirected Brandon Saad’s shot with 9:15 left to put St. Louis ahead 4-3, but Saad was called for hooking with 2:38 left.
That put the Knights on the power play and Stephenson blasted in a rebound to make the score 4-all with 1:36 remaining. It was the Knights’ 13th power-play goal in December, setting a franchise record for a month.
Both teams had high-quality chances in overtime, but both goalies made key saves to send the game to a shootout.
Blues leading scorer Jordan Kyrou didn’t play for the second game in a row because of an upper-body injury, but he took part in Friday’s morning skate. He leads St. Louis with 16 goals and 32 points. … Vegas second-line right wing Jonathan Marchessault didn’t play because of a lower-body injury. The Knights called up right wing Pavel Dorofeyev and defenseman Brayden Pachal from their American Hockey League affiliate in Henderson, Nevada. … Pietrangelo extended his points streak to four games (one goal, three assists), Amadio to three (two goals, three assists) and William Karlsson (three assists) to three. … Krug extended his points streak to four games (five assists).
Blues: At home against Toronto on Tuesday.
Golden Knights: At Los Angeles on Tuesday.
TOP INDIANA RELEASES
GAME REWIND: PACERS 111, HEAT 108
Less than two weeks ago, Tyrese Haliburton endured a rare off night against the Miami Heat. Indiana’s leading scorer managed just one point in an 87-82 loss at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, going 0-of-9 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
Haliburton flipped the script in Friday’s rematch in Miami, torching the Heat from start to finish. The third-year guard dropped a career-high 43 points and set a franchise record with 10 3-pointers — the final one breaking a tie with 2.6 seconds left — to lift Indiana (17-16) to a 111-108 win.
Haliburton was sensational all night, hitting four 3-pointers in the first seven minutes and never cooling off.
“I had to respond,” Haliburton told Bally Sports Indiana’s Jeremiah Johnson after the win. “Last time we played these guys, they really held me in check. So I just wanted to come out here and respond the right way.”
He converted a three-point play with 4:34 remaining to get to 38 points. At 3:26, he drew a foul on Victor Oladipo and converted both foul shots to reach 40 points for the first time in his career.
That gave Indiana a 107-98 lead, but a Tyler Herro three and Haywood Highsmith layup trimmed the margin to just four with 1:57 remaining.
After the two teams traded misses, Oladipo fouled Oshae Brissett on the baseline with 1:01 to play. Brissett missed the first, but hit the second. On the other end, Herro drove into the paint and drew a foul on Myles Turner, then converted both foul shots to make it a one-possession game.
The Pacers had two looks on the other end, but Brissett and Andrew Nembhard both missed shots before Miami secured possession with 16.9 seconds remaining. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra called timeout and drew up a great play for Herro, who came off a screen and got a clean look at the top of the arc, which he drilled to tie the game at 108 with 14 seconds remaining.
After an Indiana timeout, Haliburton brought the ball up and took it himself, capitalizing on a switch and draining a stepback three with 2.6 seconds to play to give Indiana the lead.
Miami was out of timeouts and couldn’t muster more than a halfcourt heave from Herro, which didn’t fall, as the Pacers picked up a massive win to head into Christmas on a high note.
“When Tyler made that shot, I just told everybody give me the ball, the game will be over,” Haliburton said.
While Haliburton was the clear star of the night, Buddy Hield was a great supporting actor for Indiana, going 7-for-11 from 3-point range himself en route to 21 points.
As Haliburton conducted his walkoff interview with Johnson on television, Hield snuck up behind Haliburton, who had already been doused with water by his teammates at the beginning of his interview, and dumped two more water bottles on his head.
Johnson then turned the microphone to Hield and asked for his thoughts on Haliburton’s performance.
“He’s an All-Star,” Hield said with a smile.
Fresh off a 33-point performance on Wednesday night in Boston, Haliburton picked up where he left off in Miami. He missed his first 3-point attempt, but connected on his next four, all in the first seven minutes of Friday’s contest.
The first quarter was a duel between the two team’s stars, as Haliburton tallied 14 points while six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler scored 12 for Miami, going 4-for-5 from both the field and the free throw line.
Indiana led 24-17 following Jalen Smith’s hook shot with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter. The Heat responded with an 11-2 run, taking the lead on Oladipo’s layup with 53.8 seconds left in the frame. The Blue & Gold countered with a T.J. McConnell layup and a three from Smith to put the visitors back in front, 31-28, after one.
After Haliburton’s first quarter barrage, it was Hield who had it going from beyond the arc in the second quarter. The veteran sharpshooter knocked down three straight triples for Indiana’s first nine points in the frame.
After Miami tied the game at 40, Haliburton drilled his fifth three of the night with 5:49 remaining in the half. The Pacers maintained a narrow lead for the next few minutes, until back-to-back treys by Herro and Kyle Lowry put Miami back in front, 54-52.
The Pacers quickly moved back in front on an old-fashioned three-point play by Smith, but Bam Adebayo’s layup with 43 seconds left in the half put the Heat ahead. Miami ultimately took a narrow 58-56 advantage into the break.
The Heat led for much of the third quarter and were up 75-68 following two Butler free throws with 4:39 remaining in the frame. That’s when the Pacers mounted a rally. Smith scored on the inside and then Hield and Haliburton knocked down threes on consecutive possessions to put Indiana in front. Smith added another hook shot from the right block at 2:28 to cap a 10-0 Pacers run.
After a technical free throw by Butler, Haliburton drained his eighth three of the night to set a new career high.
Indiana took an 84-82 lead into the fourth quarter. Miami briefly tied the game on Highsmith’s bucket in the opening minute of the final frame, but Hield quickly responded with his sixth and seventh threes of the night.
Indiana stretched its lead to nine at 95-85 following a three-point play by Turner — where he converted an acrobatic finish over former teammate Oladipo — with 7:59 remaining.
After an Adebayo jumper shaved two points off that margin, Brissett found a trailing Haliburton for an open three on the right wing with 6:41 remaining — tying the franchise record with his ninth trey of the night. Haliburton wasn’t done there, converting a tough finish on the next Pacers possession that pushed the lead to 12 and forced a Miami timeout.
The Heat would fight all the way back, but Haliburton got the last laugh.
Smith recorded a double-double off the bench for Indiana with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Nembhard was the only other Pacer to reach double figures with 10 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Herro led Miami with 28 points. Lowry added 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Butler had 20 points, six boards, three assists, and two steals over the first three quarters but did not play in the fourth.
The Pacers will return to Indianapolis for Christmas, then hit the road once more to take on the Pelicans in New Orleans on Monday. They will be back in Indiana to open a four-game homestand on Tuesday.
Inside the Numbers
Haliburton’s previous career high was 38 for Sacramento at Philadelphia on Jan. 29 of last season and his most points in a Pacers uniform prior to Friday was 35 against Brooklyn on Dec. 10. His 43 points were the most by a Pacer in a game since T.J. Warren scored 53 in the NBA bubble on Aug. 1, 2020.
Haliburton, who continues to lead the NBA in assists, also dished out a game-high seven dimes on Friday.
Hield made seven threes in a game for the third time this season to match his season high. With Haliburton and Hield leading the way, Indiana went 21-for-47 (44.7 percent) from beyond the arc. That tied for the third-most 3-pointers made in a game in franchise history.
Turner battled foul trouble most of the night and scored all five of his points in the fourth quarter, but he was a presence defensively, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking two shots.
Miami outscored Indiana 17-5 off turnovers in the first half and 21-10 for the game.
You Can Quote Me On That
“Tyrese’s performance was amazing. Set a franchise record for made threes. And this is franchise that has Reggie Miller’s number hanging in the rafters, so that’s pretty special.” -Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle on Haliburton’s performance
“I’m locked in right now. No external motivation, it’s all within me. I’m just trying to prove that I belong in this league, I belong with this opportunity to help take these guys to another level.” -Haliburton on scoring 73 points and making 16 3-pointers over his last two games
“Great players find a way to get that shot off. We ran a simple action and he made a move that created a pocket of space and allowed him to get his feet set. I was standing right behind it and it looked good all the way.” -Carlisle on Haliburton’s game-winning shot
“The last time we played these guys, they didn’t allow us to play in transition because we didn’t get enough stops. We were fouling, it was a grit, grind-it-out game. Today we were able to get enough stops to play in transition. And we’re number one in the league in fastbreak points for a reason.” -Haliburton on playing more at Indiana’s tempo
“I thought Myles Turner’s defense in the fourth quarter, after he really had been taken out of the rhythm of the game with fouls, was spectacular and a big part of us being able to be in position to win.” -Carlisle on Turner’s contributions
“Offensively, he made plays. Defensively, he blocked shots. He was in the right place at the right time…Jalen Smith — that was an impactful a game as probably any of our backup centers have had all year.” -Carlisle on Smith’s performance off the bench
Stat of the Night
Haliburton went 10-for-16 from 3-point range on Friday, becoming the first player in franchise history to make 10 3-pointers in a game. The previous record was set by Paul George when he made nine threes in an overtime win over New Orleans on Nov. 11, 2012 and matched by T.J. Warren in his aforementioned bubble performance on Aug. 1, 2020.
The Pacers now have a 2-1 lead in the season series with the Heat. The two teams will meet once more in Miami on Feb. 8.
Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith missed Friday’s game with a sprained right ankle.
Haliburton isn’t the only Pacer to drop 40 points in a game this week. Pacers second-year forward Terry Taylor has been on assignment with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at the G League Showcase and scored 46 on 20-of-24 shooting and hit the game-winning three in a 132-131 win over Oklahoma City Blue on Thursday in Las Vegas.
The Pacers travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans on Monday, Dec. 26 at 8:00 PM ET.
GAME PREVIEW: COLTS VS. CHARGERS, WEEK 16
One Big Storyline
For the third time this season, the Colts this week made a change at starting quarterback: Nick Foles will start on Monday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, interim head coach Jeff Saturday announced on Wednesday.
The reasoning behind the change is simple: Saturday believes Foles gives the Colts the best chance to win.
“I feel like Nick will give us a better chance to go win these last three games,” Saturday said, “and that’s why we’re heading that way.”
The Colts were eliminated from the playoffs with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win over the New York Jets on Thursday, but winning still very much matters to the coaches and players who’ve invested so much time and effort into the 2022 season.
Foles, at least in 2022, is somewhat of an unknown – even to his teammates. He hadn’t spent any time practicing with the first-team offense until this week, which, by the way, is not abnormal for a guy signed to be a backup. The challenge that lack of on-field familiarity presents, though, is probably a little overblown – Foles has been a successful backup for years, and has extensive experience stepping in under center at a moment’s notice.
“It’s sort of a crash course because sometimes you’re with a team for a couple years and then you go in and out, and then you play,” Foles said. “Like, this is my first time to really be with the guys so first off, just how I am in the huddle, what I’m like conducting – for me, it’s also trying to get that mindset of executing the offense, running this offense, saying these plays because really it was training camp and since then it’s been scout-team cards. But I’ve watched Matt (Ryan) and Sam (Ehlinger) do a lot of reps, but there’s always that learning curve. I’ve got to go out there, be in the moment and do what I can.”
Saturday emphasized the Colts’ offensive issues this season – they’re averaging 17.5 points per game, fourth-lowest in the NFL – are not all on the quarterback. But going to Foles is another attempt to spark something in the Colts’ offense with three games left in the season.
5 Things To Watch
Can Nick Foles push the ball downfield? Foles showed good arm strength during training camp – our last extended look at him on the field – and part of why Saturday made the quarterback switch was to try to get the Colts’ offense to take more downfield shots. The Colts are last in the NFL in average depth of target – just 6.7 yards beyond the line of scrimmage per pass – and haven’t threatened opposing defenses over the top much in 2022. That’s allowed safeties to walk down into the box, adding an extra defender to stopping a run game the Colts hoped to build around this season. If the opportunities are there for Foles to push the ball downfield, will he take them? That’ll be a big question to be answered Monday night.
How things shake out at running back. The Colts placed Jonathan Taylor on injured reserve this week, ending his 2022 season. So for the final three games of 2022, expect to see the trio of Zack Moss, Deon Jackson and Jordan Wilkins at running back. Moss had a career high 24 carries in Week 15, and the Colts were intrigued by his physical, downhill running style. The Colts have already been impressed by how Jackson has filled in for Taylor in 2022, and Wilkins will get another shot with the team that originally drafted him in 2018.
Bernhard Raimann vs. Khalil Mack. Raimann’s Pro Football Focus pass protection grade has been 73 or higher in four of his last five games, and while he’s been tagged with allowing four sacks in that span, on the whole he’s graded out well. Those ups and downs are probably to be expected for a rookie left tackle going against guys like the Raiders’ Chandler Jones, the Steelers’ Alex Highsmith and the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence over the last few weeks, but Raimann has done a solid job on a play-to-play basis. Mack, a 2023 Pro Bowler, has seven sacks and a full repertoire of pass rushing moves he’ll work to set up throughout the game. The Chargers move Mack between rushing from the left and right, so he won’t be on Raimann all night, but when he is it’ll be another key opportunity for the third-round rookie to test himself against one of the NFL’s best pass rushers.
The Colts’ pass rush vs. the Chargers’ offensive line. Justin Herbert has been sacked 21 times over his last five games, a major departure from the 12 sacks he took over his first nine starts this season. The Colts, meanwhile, are coming off their most sacks in a game (seven) since 2018 – and two of those sacks came from second-year lineman Dayo Odeyingbo, who’s been disruptive and impactful over his last few games.
Can Dallis Flowers keep this up? Since tagging in for Isaiah Rodgers Sr. as the Colts’ kick returner to begin the second half of Week 12’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Flowers is averaging a remarkable 34.1 yards per return – including returns of 48, 49 and 89 yards. For an offense that’s struggled to generate explosive plays and sustain drives, the good field position Flowers has provided on those returns has been important. Flowers, an undrafted rookie, played on defense for the first time as a pro against the Vikings and held his own against the likes of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, too. We’ll see if he gets more playing time again this week, though cornerback Brandon Facyson looks on track to return after missing Week 15 with an illness.
INDIANA BEATS KENNESAW STATE 69-55 IN NON-CONFERENCE FINALE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Hoosiers got 19 points off the bench from Tamar Bates and another 18 points from freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino en route to a 69-55 win over Kennesaw State in IU’s final non-conference game of the season.
Indiana shot 56.5 percent from the floor in the second half and outrebounded the Owls 40-28 on the game to pull away late and move to 10-3 on the season.
“I tip my hat to (Kennesaw State head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim) and his team because I thought they played harder than we did the first half,” IU head coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought in the second half, we started to lock in defensively and figure some things out. And it didn’t hurt that we were making some shots. So that helped.”
Despite frigid temperatures outside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, a crowd of 12,978 braved the weather to support the Hoosiers.
“I thank all the fans for coming out,” Woodson said. “They didn’t have to do that this evening and to support us with the weather being so bad, so I want to wish all the fans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
Both teams got off to a chilly start, struggling to find the bottom of the basket, but Kennesaw State jumped out to a 15-9 lead on the strength of five three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of action. The Hoosiers missed the experience of starters Trayce Jackson-Davis and Xavier Johnson, both of whom were out of action (Jackson-Davis was held out for precautionary reasons, while Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the week and is out indefinitely).
But IU kept grinding, and the Hoosiers got a spark when Bates took a pass from C.J. Gunn and threw down a dunk to pull within 17-15. Kennesaw State answered with five straight points to rebuild its advantage, but the Hoosiers responded with a steal by Miller Kopp that led to another Bates dunk.
“It wasn’t necessarily a slow start, but there just wasn’t too much energy in the group on both ends of the floor,” Bates said. “I just tried to find a way where I could bring a spark, and tonight, that was running the floor and getting on the rim.”
The Owls then were whistled for an offensive foul, and Kopp converted a pair of free throws to pull the Hoosiers within 22-19.
Following a Kennesaw State free throw, Trey Galloway sandwiched a pair of threes around an Owls bucket to tie the score at 25. Hood-Schifino then converted a pair of free throws to give the Hoosiers a lead at 27-25. KSU answered with a bucket of its own to knot the score again, and the teams went into the break tied at 27.
IU was just 10-of-23 shooting in the first half, while Kennesaw State shot just 32.3 percent in the first 20 minutes. Six of those made field goals from the Owls came from three-point range, however, allowing KSU to keep pace.
The Hoosiers ran off the first four points of the second half behind an inside score from Malik Reneau and a jumper from Hood-Schifino, and Hood-Schifino knocked down a three-pointer to beat the shot clock and give IU a 34-29 lead.
But the Owls took advantage of an IU offensive brownout to go on an 8-0 run that included a pair of threes to go up 37-34 before Jordan Geronimo broke the run with two free throws. The teams traded three-pointers, giving KSU a 40-39 lead at the under-12 minute timeout.
Bates gave the Hoosiers the lead once again with a three-pointer from the wing coming out of the timeout, and Thompson blocked a KSU shot that led to a breakout for Geronimo, who was fouled and split a pair of free throws. The Owls answered with another three over the outstretched hand of Geronimo to tie the game again, but Kopp drained his own triple to put IU up 46-43.
IU turned up the defense and forced turnovers on two straight KSU possessions, and a Bates three pushed the IU lead to six. The Owls answered with a jumper from Demond Robinson, but Hood-Schifino attacked the bucket on IU’s next possession to put Indiana ahead 51-45.
Another basket from Hood-Schifino and two free throws from Geronimo gave Indiana a 55-47 lead, but KSU ran off four straight points thanks to two free throws from Robinson and a drive and score from Simeon Cottle to pull within 55-51 with 5:21 to play.
A Kopp jumper from in front of the bench and a Galloway tip-in on a missed Bates three-pointer pushed the IU lead to eight at 59-51 by the under-4 timeout.
The Hoosiers still led 62-54 with 1:50 to play when Hood-Schifino was fouled on the perimeter and was sent to the line for a pair of free throws. He made both to give IU its biggest lead of the night at that point at 64-54.
Bates and Hood-Schifino scored the final five points of the game to ensure the victory.
MEN’S SOCCER ADDS FIVE FRESHMEN FOR 2023 CAMPAIGN
INDIANAPOLIS – On the heels of a highly successful 2022 campaign, IUPUI head men’s soccer coach Sid van Druenen announced the additions of five student-athletes for the 2023 season. IUPUI was picked to finish tenth in the Horizon League polls prior to the 2022 season, but earned a runner-up finish at the league tournament.
IUPUI finished the season at 7-7-6 and scored 31 goals in 20 games, marking the program’s most in the Division I era.
“I am very excited to announce the first couple of members of our 2023 class. All of them are great additions and I am looking forward to see who will have an impact and help us build on a record breaking 2022 season,” van Druenen said.
Ryan Grinstead (Shawnee Mission, Kan./Shawnee Mission East)
6-foot-2 // Forward
-Played for Kansas City Scott Gallagher 2005 ECNL Boys
-Had 20 goals and eight assists during the 2021-22 ECNL season, helping his team to an 18-3-1 mark
-Named honorable mention All-Sunflower League this past season as a senior
van Druenen on Grinstead
“Ryan is a physical strong forward with great mentality and very high work rate.”
Jose Herrera (Bensenville, Ill./York Community)
5-foot-11 // Forward
-Helped York Community to a 2021 IHSA State Championship
-Two-time All-Conference and All-Sectional Team honoree
-Earned All-State Tournament Team honors in 2021
-Helped York to a fourth-place finish at state in 2022
-Was a high honor roll student all four years
van Druenen on Herrera
“Jose is a mobile, technical forward with tremendous goal scoring ability.”
Brady Lombardo (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South)
5-foot-7 // Midfielder
-Two-year varsity letterwinner at Parkway South High School
-Also played for the Saint Louis Scott Gallagher Academy’s U17 team
-Earned the team’s 110% Award
-Two-year member of the National Honor Society
van Druenen on Lombardo
“Brady is a versatile midfielder that can also play outside back. He is very mobile with good vision and passing ability.”
Demian Martinez (Romeoville, Ill./Romeoville)
5-foot-9 // Midfielder
-Earned All-Conference and All-Sectional honors in 2022
-Helped Romeoville to a 28-2-1 mark and an IHSA Class 3A runner-up finish and a No. 2 ranking from Chicagoland Soccer
-It marked Romeoville’s first state championship trip in the program’s 60-year history
van Druenen on Martinez
“Demian is a technical and hardworking midfielder with good passing and shooting ability.”
Austin Wells (Guilford, Ind./East Central)
5-foot-11 // Goalkeeper
-Opted to play soccer with the FC Cincinnati Pro Academy Team
-Previously played for Cincinnati United Premier DA, Indiana ODP and TFA Elite
-Helped his team to the Ohio State Cup title in 2018
-Named to the Exemplary Honor Roll every semester of his career
van Druenen on Wells
“Austin is a goalkeeper with great potential and strong leadership skills that comes to us from a high level MLS environment and will strengthen our goalkeeper group immediately.”
WOMEN’S SOCCER ANNOUNCES 2023 SIGNING CLASS
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Soccer announced signees for the 2023 class. The Screaming Eagles are welcoming 11 players to the program for the 2023 season.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome our first D-I recruiting class to the USI Soccer family,” Head Coach Eric Schoenstein said.
Morgen Alvarez (Anaheim, California) is a 5’4″ forward from Fairmont Preparatory Academy in Anaheim, California. Besides soccer, Alvarez also played tennis and volleyball at the prep level. Alvarez comes to USI with a knack for scoring goals. Alvarez started her prep career with 23 goals as a freshman and has continued her scoring way all the way through her senior season this past fall. Alvarez played club soccer for Platinis West Coast FC DPL.
Grace Bamber (Chesteron, Indiana), a 5’6″ midfielder out of Chesterton High School, comes to USI as one of the top attacking players in Indiana. This past fall, Bamber scored 12 times in her senior season and dished out six assists. She tallied 54 goals, 31 assists, and 139 points for her career. Bamber was named all-state Second Team in 2021 and 2022 as well as an all-district first team each year. In 2021, Bamber was named Northwestern Indiana Times Player of the Year. Bamber played her club soccer for FC Pride ECNL and Indiana Elite ECNL.
Kamryn Bea (O’Fallon, Missouri) is a 5’5″ defender and was a two-sport athlete, competing in cross country in addition to soccer. Bea was named all-state for 2022 and received multiple accolades in 2021, including all-state honorable mention, all-conference newcomer of the year, and all-conference first team in 2021. She played club soccer for St. Louis Development Academy Rangers, winning the state cup in 2021 and 2022 as well as finishing as a semifinalist at USYS Nationals in 2022.
Eva Boer (St. Charles, Illinois) is a 5’9″ forward from Burlington Central High School. Boer can play multiple positions either at the front of the attack or back on defense. The basketball and soccer letter winner in high school earned all-conference and all-sectional in her 2022 soccer season. Her 2021 squad was sectional and regional champions. Playing her club soccer for Team Chicago SC, Boer and her club teammates were state cup finalists in 2020 and 2021 in addition to being NPL National Finalists in 2021.
Lydia Bordfeld (Evansville, Indiana) is from Memorial High School down the road in Evansville. The 5’11” midfielder also played basketball in high school. Bordfeld racked up five goals and five assists this past fall season for Memorial High School. For her career, Bordfeld has totaled 13 goals, seven assists, and 33 points. A player on a two-time Class 2A state championship squad in 2021 and 2022, Bordfeld was all-state second team in 2022 to go along with first-team all-district, all-city, and all-conference honors. Her club team, FCE United 05Girls, won the Indiana State Cup in 2022.
Reese Frericks (Richmond, Illinois), from Richmond Burton High School, is a 5’3″ forward/midfielder who also lettered in volleyball in high school. Frericks is coming off a 100-point season in 2022, scoring 45 goals and recording 10 assists. In the two high schools season played, Frericks sits as the all-time leader in goals scored with 70. Her team made it to the 1A Elite Eight in 2021 and was the 1A state runner-up in 2022. Frericks was named player of the year and all-conference first team in 2022 among other accolades, including first-team All-Area, All-District, and first-team Chicagoland All-State. Plus, she was also named all-conference first team in 2021. Frericks played club soccer for Eclipse Select ECNL.
Kate Johnson (Manchester, Missouri) is a 5’10” defender from Parkway South High School. A two-sport athlete, Johnson was named all-conference first team in 2021. Johnson was a four-year varsity player at Parkway South. Johnson’s club soccer team, Missouri Rush ECNLRL 04/05, finished in the final four at ECNLRL Nationals.
Kerigan Kivisto (Collierville, Tennessee), a 5’4″ midfield/forward from Collierville High School, is a versatile player who can score and set up her teammates. Kivisto’s high school squad went 10-6-1 this past fall, finishing second in AAA District 15. She was named All-District and All-State in 2022. Kivisto’s Lady Lobos Rush club squad was USYS Southern Regional Champions in 2022.
Charli Miller (Evansville, Indiana), a local player from Reitz High School in Evansville, is a 5’6″ midfielder who also ran track in high school. This past fall, Miller’s team won an IHSAA Class 3A sectional title and made it through to the regional semifinals. Miller scored 10 times individually and passed out 14 assists this past fall. For her high school career, Miller recorded 26 goals, 36 assists, and 88 points. Miller played club soccer for Indiana Fire South ECNLRL.
Greta Ohlwein (Chicago, Illinois), a 5’1″ wing player, signs with USI after her high school career at Highland Park High School. Ohlwein is a versatile player who plays on the outside either as a defensive back or as a forward. Her high school squad was the CSL North Conference Champions in 2021 and BodyArmor Series Champions in 2022. Ohlwein was also a cross-country runner and was a kicker/punter on the varsity football team at Highland Park in her senior year. Ohlwein played her club soccer for Chicago FC United.
Elena Summanen (Westerville, Ohio) is a 5’9″ goalkeeper from Westerville Central High School and a four-year varsity player. Her high school squad went 13-6-3 last season. Summanen was second-team All-OCC in 2021. She was also an academic letter winner for four years. Summanen played her club soccer for Ohio Premier ECNL.
“Elena is an incredible shot-stopper, communicator, and distributor from the keeper position,” Schoenstein commented.
“Kam, Kate, and Greta bring speed, tenacious defending, and quality distribution to the back line. Lydia and Charli bring height, strength, and work rate to the holding midfielder role. Grace and Kerigan bring a great deal of skill, speed, and vision to our attacking midfield spot. Morgen and Reese deliver speed, dynamic attacking abilities, and goalscoring to the roster. Plus, Eva adds strength, power, a great touch, and an ability to score from anywhere.”
USI Women’s Soccer heads into its second season as an NCAA Division I program in 2023, coming off a postseason berth in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship Tournament. The 2023 schedule will be released at a later date.
VALPO BASEBALL REVEALS 2023 SCHEDULE
The Valparaiso University baseball program has revealed its schedule for the 2023 season, which will feature 51 regular-season games leading into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, hosted by Indiana State in Terre Haute, Ind. from May 23-28.
The nonconference schedule will see Valpo take on opponents from nine different conferences including four of the power five – the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten and SEC as well as the Ohio Valley Conference, Sun Belt, Summit League, Horizon League and Mid-American Conference.
The season begins with six games against first-time opponents as Valpo takes on Kansas (Feb. 17-19) and UT Martin (Feb. 24-26). The Beacons will return to Arkansas Little Rock (March 3-5) after most recently taking two out of three there in 2009. The team’s spring trip features a midweek stop at Mississippi State on March 7, continuing an all-time series that saw the Bulldogs sweep a doubleheader on March 11, 2009 in the only prior matchups.
A trip to Southern Miss (March 10-12) will see Valpo match up with a team that won Conference USA last season as part of a 47-19 record, hosting and winning an NCAA Regional before making an NCAA Super Regional appearance. The Golden Eagles are in their first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Valpo will visit Omaha (March 17-19) for the second straight season after winning two of three last year. Notre Dame (March 21, April 18) will make its annual appearances on the schedule after the Fighting Irish knocked off No. 1 Tennessee in last year’s Super Regional to reach the College World Series as part of a 41-7 season.
The Beacons will open the home portion of the season with their 75th all-time meeting with Milwaukee (March 28). Other midweek dates include at Milwaukee (April 4), at Purdue Fort Wayne (April 11), at Purdue (April 25), at Western Michigan (May 2) and vs. Western Michigan (May 9).
The Missouri Valley Conference docket opens at Indiana State (March 24-26). Valpo will host MVC newcomers Murray State (March 31-April 2) and UIC (April 21-23) before visiting the league’s third new member, Belmont (May 12-14). Other MVC road opponents are Evansville (April 7-9), Bradley (April 14-16) and Missouri State (April 28-30), while additional conference home opponents include Southern Illinois (May 5-7) and Illinois State (May 18-20).
VALPO TO CLOSE CALENDAR YEAR AT MVC PRESEASON FAVORITE DRAKE
Valparaiso (6-7, 0-2 MVC)
at Drake (10-3, 1-1 MVC)
Game No. 14 – Thursday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m. CT
Knapp Center (7,152) – Des Moines, Iowa
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After closing out the nonconference portion of the season with a winning record in nonleague games, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will begin the continuous portion of Missouri Valley Conference play with a post-Christmas visit to Des Moines, Iowa, where the S’s may be silent, but the Knapp Center will be buzzing as the Beacons match up with MVC preseason favorite Drake. The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
Last Time Out: Valpo closed out the nonconference portion of the season with a 77-67 victory over Stonehill on the program’s Community Day – a special holiday-themed afternoon matinee leading into Christmas. Nick Edwards turned in a double-double of 20 points and 12 assists as one of four Beacons who scored in double figures. Valpo led by 26 with 5:15 remaining in a game that was not nearly as close as the 10-point margin would indicate.
Following the Beacons: Television – CBS Sports Network – Alex Del Barrio (play-by-play) and King McClure (analyst)
Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst)
Twitter updates – @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (103-103) is in his seventh season as the head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2022-2023. Twice during his tenure, Valpo has upset Top-25 opponents, defeating Drake and Rhode Island at the ARC. Valpo has four wins over AP Top 25 teams in program history, and two have come under Lottich. In 2019-2020, Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness, the annual Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis, to reach the title game after playing in the opening round by winning three games in three days. Lottich, hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016, graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and New Trier High School (Illinois) in 2000.
Series Notes: The two teams have split the 16 all-time matchups in a series that began in 1944-45. Since Valpo’s arrival in the Missouri Valley Conference, Drake holds a 6-4 head-to-head edge. The Bulldogs won both matchups last season, 73-66 on Dec. 2 in Des Moines and 71-65 on Feb. 23 in Northwest Indiana. On Feb. 7, 2021, Valpo upstaged the No. 25 Bulldogs 74-57 at the ARC for the fourth win over an AP Top 25 team in program history, knocking Drake from the ranks of the unbeaten. That came a day after a narrow 80-77 Drake victory as the two teams met on consecutive days. Valpo is 1-4 all-time in Des Moines with the victory coming on Feb. 24, 2018 by a 69-64 score.
The Season of Giving
Nick Edwards displayed his holiday spirit the week leading into Christmas by dishing out 13 assists on Dec. 18 vs. Elon and 12 on Dec. 21 vs. Stonehill.
Edwards is one of four players nationally with multiple games of 12+ assists this season, joining Yuri Collins of Saint Louis, Tyler Robertson of Portland and Markquis Nowell of Kansas State. His 13-assist game ranks tied for ninth nationally and his 12-assist game ranks tied for 13th, as of Dec. 22.
Prior to Dec. 18, the last time a Valpo player had 12 or more assists in a single game was Bryce Drew on Jan. 21, 1995 vs. Eastern Illinois. Now, Edwards has turned the trick in consecutive contests.
In the game against Stonehill, he posted a double-double with 18 of his 20 points coming after halftime, when he knocked down six of his seven field-goal attempts. This marked Valpo’s second double-double of the season and first since Ben Krikke had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the Nov. 7 season opener at Toledo.
Edwards became just the 11th player in the nation with a 20-point, 10-assist game this season. He became the first player in the nation to notch 20 or more points and 12 or more assists in a game this year. The last time that happened nationally was Yuri Collins of Saint Louis on Feb. 2, 2022 at George Mason. No Missouri Valley Conference player had achieved that feat in the last decade prior to Edwards.
Edwards had Valpo’s first 20&10 game since Kobe King on Feb. 5, 2022 vs. Indiana State (24 points, 11 rebounds).
Edwards posted the first points-assists double-double by a Valpo player since Ron Howard (15 points, 10 assists) on Jan. 24, 2005.
Edwards also swiped four steals and collected six rebounds in the win over Stonehill. He became just the second player in the nation this season with 20 or more points, 10 or more assists, five or rebounds and four or more steals, joining UConn’s Tristen Newton (Nov. 15 vs. Buffalo).
He finished just three assists shy of a longstanding program record for dimes in a single game by dishing out 13 in the Dec. 18 victory over Elon.
He became the first member of the program to give out 13 or more assists in a single game since Todd Smith on Feb. 22, 1986 vs. Eastern Illinois.
Edwards became just the 10th player in the nation to notch 13 or more assists in a single game in 2022-23.
Prior to this season, only one Valpo player over the previous decade (Deion Lavender, twice) had accrued 10 or more assists in a game. Now, two different Beacons have done so this year with Edwards joining Darius DeAviero (Nov. 13 vs. Western Michigan).
This marks the first season where two different Valpo players have had double-figure assist games since 2004-05 (Ron Howard and Seth Colclasure).
The program record of 16 assists in a game came courtesy of John McIlvain on Jan. 13, 1983 at UIC.
The 13 assists nearly doubled Edwards’ previous season best of seven that came on Dec. 6 vs. Trinity Christian.
On the Upswing
Over the last four games, Edwards is averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 2.5 steals per outing.
Over the first nine games of the season, Edwards averaged 5.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.9 steals per contest.
Edwards has played at least 25 minutes in each of the last four games including 39 minutes in each of the last two contests (since then starting point guard Preston Ruedinger was ruled out for the season with an injury).
Edwards saw fewer than 12 minutes of action in three straight games – Nov. 19 vs. Incarnate Word, Nov. 23 at Samford and Nov. 25 vs. South Dakota State. He also played just 11 minutes on Dec. 4 vs. Murray State.
Lottich Leaps J.M. Christiansen
Valpo head coach Matt Lottich moved into sole possession of third in program history when he garnered his 103rd career victory on Dec. 21 vs. Stonehill. That triumph helped him snap a tie with J.M. Christiansen (1929-1941) for third all-time.
Lottich reached the 100-win milestone with an 81-79 overtime victory over James Madison on Nov. 27 in Savannah, Ga.
The former Stanford sharpshooter became just the fourth head coach in program history to get to 100 wins, joining Homer Drew, Bryce Drew and J.M. Christiansen.
Lottich is now trailing only the Drews on the program’s all-time wins list.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Finished the nonconference portion of the season with a 10-3 record including a 58-52 upset over No. 15 Mississippi State on Dec. 20 in Lincoln, Neb.
Followed up the Mississippi State win by pounding St. Ambrose 124-48 on Dec. 21 to close out the nonconference schedule.
Only losses have come to Saint Louis, Richmond and Indiana State.
Heavily favored to win the MVC after collecting 52 of 54 first-place votes in the preseason poll.
Won 25 games last season en route to a College Basketball Invitational (CBI) berth.
SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:
INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/
EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/
WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/
FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/
ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/
ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index
TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index
BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/
DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/
HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/
MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/
HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/
OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx
ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index
IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/
IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/
IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/
PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/
INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx
GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/
GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/
HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php
TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/
VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index
|American Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|x-Buffalo Bills||11||3||0||.786||0.0||385||250||6 – 1 – 0||5 – 2 – 0||8 – 2 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||5 W|
|xy-Kansas City Chiefs||11||3||0||.786||0.0||414||322||5 – 1 – 0||6 – 2 – 0||7 – 3 – 0||4 – 0 – 0||2 W|
|x-Cincinnati Bengals||10||4||0||.714||0.0||369||288||5 – 1 – 0||5 – 3 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||6 W|
|Tennessee Titans||7||7||0||.500||0.0||255||293||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 4 – 0||5 – 5 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||4 L|
|Baltimore Ravens||9||5||0||.643||0.0||304||263||4 – 2 – 0||5 – 3 – 0||6 – 4 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||1 L|
|Los Angeles Chargers||8||6||0||.571||0.0||312||340||4 – 3 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||6 – 4 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||2 W|
|Miami Dolphins||8||6||0||.571||0.0||345||344||5 – 1 – 0||3 – 5 – 0||6 – 4 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||3 L|
|New England Patriots||7||7||0||.500||1.0||300||269||3 – 3 – 0||4 – 4 – 0||5 – 4 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||1 L|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||7||8||0||.467||1.5||353||331||4 – 3 – 0||3 – 5 – 0||6 – 4 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||3 W|
|New York Jets||7||8||0||.467||1.5||284||282||3 – 5 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 6 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||4 L|
|Las Vegas Raiders||6||8||0||.429||2.0||338||337||4 – 2 – 0||2 – 6 – 0||5 – 5 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||1 W|
|Cleveland Browns||6||8||0||.429||2.0||313||326||4 – 3 – 0||2 – 5 – 0||4 – 7 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||1 W|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||6||8||0||.429||2.0||251||309||2 – 4 – 0||4 – 4 – 0||2 – 7 – 0||1 – 3 – 0||1 W|
|Indianapolis Colts||4||9||1||.321||3.5||245||337||2 – 4 – 0||2 – 5 – 1||4 – 5 – 1||1 – 3 – 1||4 L|
|Denver Broncos||4||10||0||.286||4.0||218||253||3 – 4 – 0||1 – 6 – 0||2 – 8 – 0||0 – 4 – 0||1 W|
|Houston Texans||1||12||1||.107||6.5||235||344||0 – 6 – 1||1 – 6 – 0||1 – 7 – 1||1 – 1 – 1||9 L|
|National Football Conference|
|W||L||T||Pct||GB||PF||PA||Home||Road||vs. Conf||vs. Div||Streak|
|x-Philadelphia Eagles||13||1||0||.929||0.0||411||268||6 – 1 – 0||7 – 0 – 0||8 – 1 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||5 W|
|xy-Minnesota Vikings||11||3||0||.786||0.0||351||349||7 – 1 – 0||4 – 2 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||1 W|
|xy-San Francisco 49ers||10||4||0||.714||0.0||338||210||6 – 1 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||8 – 2 – 0||5 – 0 – 0||7 W|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||8||0||.429||0.0||247||288||4 – 4 – 0||2 – 4 – 0||6 – 3 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||2 L|
|x-Dallas Cowboys||10||4||0||.714||0.0||394||269||7 – 1 – 0||3 – 3 – 0||7 – 3 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||1 L|
|New York Giants||8||5||1||.607||0.0||287||312||4 – 3 – 1||4 – 2 – 0||4 – 5 – 1||1 – 3 – 1||1 W|
|Washington Commanders||7||6||1||.536||0.0||265||276||3 – 4 – 0||4 – 2 – 1||4 – 5 – 1||1 – 3 – 1||1 L|
|Seattle Seahawks||7||7||0||.500||1.5||355||355||3 – 4 – 0||4 – 3 – 0||5 – 6 – 0||3 – 2 – 0||2 L|
|Detroit Lions||7||7||0||.500||1.5||369||364||4 – 4 – 0||3 – 3 – 0||5 – 4 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||3 W|
|Green Bay Packers||6||8||0||.429||2.5||287||314||4 – 3 – 0||2 – 5 – 0||5 – 5 – 0||2 – 2 – 0||2 W|
|Carolina Panthers||5||9||0||.357||3.5||276||314||4 – 4 – 0||1 – 5 – 0||4 – 5 – 0||3 – 1 – 0||1 L|
|New Orleans Saints||5||9||0||.357||3.5||286||315||4 – 4 – 0||1 – 5 – 0||4 – 6 – 0||2 – 3 – 0||1 W|
|Atlanta Falcons||5||9||0||.357||3.5||306||333||4 – 3 – 0||1 – 6 – 0||4 – 6 – 0||1 – 4 – 0||3 L|
|Arizona Cardinals||4||10||0||.286||4.5||292||372||1 – 7 – 0||3 – 3 – 0||3 – 6 – 0||1 – 4 – 0||4 L|
|Los Angeles Rams||4||10||0||.286||4.5||230||320||3 – 5 – 0||1 – 5 – 0||3 – 8 – 0||1 – 4 – 0||1 L|
|Chicago Bears||3||11||0||.214||5.5||290||358||2 – 5 – 0||1 – 6 – 0||1 – 9 – 0||0 – 4 – 0||7 L|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Boston||23||10||.697||—||12-5||11-5||4-0||14-8||5-5||1 W|
|2 Milwaukee||22||10||.688||0.5||14-3||8-7||4-2||11-6||6-4||2 L|
|3 Cleveland||22||12||.647||1.5||16-3||6-9||5-2||15-6||7-3||1 L|
|4 Brooklyn||21||12||.636||2.0||12-5||9-7||5-2||16-6||9-1||8 W|
|5 Philadelphia||19||12||.613||3.0||14-5||5-7||3-3||13-8||7-3||7 W|
|6 New York||18||15||.545||5.0||8-9||10-6||1-3||12-8||8-2||2 L|
|7 Atlanta||17||16||.515||6.0||11-6||6-10||4-3||13-12||4-6||1 W|
|8 Indiana||17||16||.515||6.0||9-7||8-9||1-2||12-8||5-5||2 W|
|9 Miami||16||17||.485||7.0||9-8||6-9||5-1||8-11||5-5||2 L|
|10 Toronto||15||18||.455||8.0||10-6||5-12||2-7||11-13||3-7||2 W|
|11 Chicago||14||18||.438||8.5||7-7||7-11||2-1||12-9||5-5||3 W|
|12 Washington||13||21||.382||10.5||8-7||5-14||3-3||7-13||2-8||1 W|
|13 Orlando||13||21||.382||10.5||9-9||4-12||2-4||7-16||8-2||2 W|
|14 Charlotte||9||24||.273||14.0||4-11||5-13||3-6||4-17||2-8||1 W|
|15 Detroit||8||27||.229||16.0||4-12||4-15||0-5||3-17||2-8||5 L|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Denver||20||11||.645||—||11-3||9-8||7-2||16-7||6-4||3 W|
|2 Memphis||20||11||.645||—||13-2||7-9||3-2||9-8||8-2||1 W|
|3 New Orleans||20||12||.625||0.5||13-4||7-8||6-1||14-8||6-4||2 W|
|4 Phoenix||19||14||.576||2.0||14-5||5-9||7-0||16-9||3-7||2 L|
|5 LA Clippers||19||15||.559||2.5||11-7||8-8||3-4||11-11||6-4||1 L|
|6 Sacramento||17||14||.548||3.0||9-6||8-8||4-4||6-6||5-5||1 L|
|7 Utah||19||16||.543||3.0||12-5||7-11||3-4||15-9||5-5||2 W|
|8 Dallas||17||16||.515||4.0||12-5||5-11||2-2||12-6||5-5||2 W|
|9 Portland||17||16||.515||4.0||7-6||10-10||4-5||13-11||5-5||3 L|
|10 Minnesota||16||17||.485||5.0||9-8||7-9||4-4||9-12||5-5||2 L|
|11 Golden State||15||18||.455||6.0||12-2||3-16||4-3||9-8||3-7||2 L|
|12 Oklahoma City||14||19||.424||7.0||9-8||5-11||3-6||8-12||4-6||1 L|
|13 LA Lakers||13||19||.406||7.5||8-8||5-11||0-7||7-12||3-7||3 L|
|14 San Antonio||10||22||.313||10.5||5-11||5-10||2-4||4-18||4-6||2 L|
|15 Houston||9||23||.281||11.5||6-10||3-13||1-5||5-17||3-7||5 L|
|1 Boston Bruins||33||27||4||2||56||25||130||74||18-0-2||9-4-0||7-1-2|
|2 Carolina Hurricanes||34||22||6||6||50||20||106||90||10-3-1||12-3-5||9-0-1|
|3 Toronto Maple Leafs||34||21||7||6||48||21||111||82||13-2-3||8-5-3||7-2-1|
|4 New Jersey Devils||34||22||10||2||46||22||115||87||10-8-1||12-2-1||3-6-1|
|5 Pittsburgh Penguins||33||19||9||5||43||18||114||95||10-3-3||9-6-2||8-1-1|
|6 Tampa Bay Lightning||32||20||11||1||41||20||115||97||12-4-1||8-7-0||7-3-0|
|7 New York Rangers||35||19||11||5||43||18||116||96||8-6-4||11-5-1||8-2-0|
|8 Washington Capitals||36||19||13||4||42||19||111||102||11-5-1||8-8-3||9-1-0|
|9 New York Islanders||35||19||14||2||40||19||112||98||10-6-0||9-8-2||4-4-2|
|10 Detroit Red Wings||32||14||11||7||35||13||98||105||8-6-3||6-5-4||3-5-2|
|11 Buffalo Sabres||32||16||14||2||34||15||127||109||7-8-2||9-6-0||7-2-1|
|12 Florida Panthers||35||15||16||4||34||14||114||120||8-5-3||7-11-1||3-7-0|
|13 Montreal Canadiens||34||15||16||3||33||11||95||118||7-9-0||8-7-3||3-5-2|
|14 Ottawa Senators||33||14||16||3||31||14||100||106||8-8-1||6-8-2||5-3-2|
|15 Philadelphia Flyers||35||11||17||7||29||11||90||119||7-9-1||4-8-6||3-5-2|
|16 Columbus Blue Jackets||33||10||21||2||22||10||89||135||8-11-1||2-10-1||2-8-0|
|1 Vegas Golden Knights||36||24||11||1||49||21||122||100||10-9-0||14-2-1||6-4-0|
|2 Dallas Stars||35||20||9||6||46||20||125||99||10-4-3||10-5-3||6-3-1|
|3 Los Angeles Kings||37||19||12||6||44||16||121||128||10-5-2||9-7-4||6-2-2|
|4 Winnipeg Jets||34||21||12||1||43||21||111||88||12-5-0||9-7-1||5-5-0|
|5 Seattle Kraken||32||18||10||4||40||18||113||104||9-6-2||9-4-2||4-5-1|
|6 Colorado Avalanche||32||19||11||2||40||16||96||84||9-5-2||10-6-0||6-3-1|
|7 Minnesota Wild||33||19||12||2||40||16||106||95||11-6-1||8-6-1||7-3-0|
|8 Calgary Flames||35||16||12||7||39||15||110||109||10-6-2||6-6-5||4-2-4|
|9 Edmonton Oilers||35||18||15||2||38||18||126||122||9-9-1||9-6-1||4-4-2|
|10 St. Louis Blues||34||16||16||2||34||14||105||124||6-7-1||10-9-1||5-3-2|
|11 Nashville Predators||32||14||13||5||33||12||82||98||8-5-3||6-8-2||3-4-3|
|12 Vancouver Canucks||33||15||15||3||33||13||114||129||6-9-1||9-6-2||6-4-0|
|13 San Jose Sharks||35||11||18||6||28||10||108||129||4-10-5||7-8-1||3-5-2|
|14 Arizona Coyotes||32||11||16||5||27||10||87||117||5-3-2||6-13-3||4-5-1|
|15 Anaheim Ducks||35||9||22||4||22||7||83||146||5-8-1||4-14-3||3-6-1|
|16 Chicago Blackhawks||32||8||20||4||20||8||75||122||5-12-2||3-8-2||2-8-0|
December 24, 1892 – Charleston, South Carolina – The University of South Carolina Gamecocks played the school’s first football game. The outcome unfortunately for USC was a loss to Furman 0-44 according to a correspondence from the SC Athletic Department.
December 24, 1950 – Cleveland Municipal Stadium – The NFL Championship Game is played as the Los Angeles Rams faced the Cleveland Browns. This game had some extremely interesting storylines. The first one is that if you remember our December 16 edition of this series we talked about how the Rams played their last game calling Cleveland their home city as they won the 1945 NFL Championship there. I would venture to guess that there was some deep interest on one side of the fence or the other on the team returning a bit over 5 years later to vie for another NFL Title in the same stadium they once called home. The second interesting item of the game was that this was the first season that the Cleveland Browns participated in the NFL. They had spent the prior four seasons as the best team in the All America Football Conference or AAFC, and in fact they won all four championships of the Leagues existence. At the end of the 1949 AAFC season the fledgling football conference disbanded but made an agreement with the NFL to absorb their three most successful franchises so Cleveland, the Baltimore Colts and the San Fran 49ers all joined the NFL for the 1950 season. The popularity of the Browns success had probably healed any unrest the fans had of when the Rams moved to the West Coast. The contest was evenly matched on the slick turf of Cleveland stadium. It all came down to Cleveland’s final drive. There was 1:48 left in regulation with LA up by a single point and the game rested in the hands of veteran Browns signal caller Otto Graham. Using both his legs and short passing game, Graham engineered a drive down the field as the Rams defenders had to sit back due the slippery conditions. With 20 seconds remaining Cleveland kicker Lou Groza nailed a 16 yard field goal to put the Browns up by two. The Rams gave everyone a scare on the kick off as return man Jerry Williams took the Groza kick and weaved through traffic to race 35 yards before Groza tackled him to secure the victory. The Cleveland Browns in the game went on to defeat the LA Rams, 30-28 per the website story on GoldenRankings.com. Cleveland’s defense provided five interceptions of the Rams offense often regarded as one of the most prolific in league history to that point.
December 24, 1961 – Balboa Stadium, San Diego – The AFL Championship Game took place as the San Diego Chargers entertained the Houston OIlers per the Medium.com website story. It was the second season in a row that the Stout defense of San Diego would battle against the offensive Juggernaut of the Oilers. Houston’s high flying offense was quite subdued by the Charger D for most of the contest. Houston’s defenders were no slouch though in the contest as they sacked quarterback Jack Kemp 6 times and intercepted four of his throws. It was a rough game all around as 13 players were assisted off of the field of play. The Oilers Billy Cannon scored the game’s only touchdown on a 35 yard pass play from George Blanda as the Oilers outlasted the Chargers 10-3.
December 24, 1967 – The NFL Divisional Rounds were played and the Dallas Cowboys put a hurting on the Cleveland Browns 52-14 to advance. Pro-Football-Reference.com informs us that Dandy Don Meredith tossed 2 TD passes with 212 yards but the Cowboys ground game of Don Perkins and Craig Baynham with two touchdowns each powered the scoring for Dallas.
December 24, 1967 – The Green Bay Packers won their Divisional Playoff with the LA Rams 28-7. Travis Williams fueled the Packers scoring with his two rushing touchdowns and 88 yards that kept the Rams offense off of the field per the Pro-Football-Reference site.
HALL OF FAME BIRTHDAY FOR DECEMBER 24
December 24, 1871 – Hawley, Pennsylvania – The University of Pennsylvania’s End, Charlie Gelbert was born. The footballfoundation.org says that some folks called Gelbert the “Miracle Man” because he did so much with so little with his 5’-9” frame that weighed 170 pounds, Charlie was an excellent blocker of larger men. Penn’s Coach Georg Woodruff devised a play called “guards back” in which Gelbert would play guard and with a few other linemen would drop back into the backfield at the snap and run interference for the ball carriers. Walter Camp named Charlie to his All-America Team in three straight years from 1894 through 1896. The College Football Hall of Fame welcomed Charlie Gelbert into their group of legends in 1960.
December 24, 1921 – Bluefield, Virginia – The University of Virginia’s legendary halfback Bullet Bill Dudley celebrated his birth. Some so-called experts thought Dudley was too small to play football in the collegiate ranks as he weighed in at 152 pounds with a 5’-10” frame per the NFF. Virginia’s Coach Frank Murray decided to give Bill a chance to prove all of the other recruiters wrong. What Dudley did was to become the only player to win MVP honors in college, the Armed Forces and professional levels. During the 1941 season Bullet Bill led the nation with 18 touchdowns, 134 points scored, a 6.2 rushing average per play and 29 touchdowns. The National Football Foundation selected Bill Dudley into their College Football Hall of Fame in 1956. The Pittsburgh Steelers did not hesitate a second to pick Bill and the first pick in the 1942 Draft of the NFL. In his 9 pro seasons he had 8217 total yards and recorded 23 interceptions and played in 3 Pro Bowls. In fact the Pro Football Hall says that Bill won a rare triple crown of awards in the NFL, he was the interception leader, the top rusher and held the punt return title in 1946. Bill Dudley found the door wide open for him to enter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
1929 The Giants file a $200,000 damage suit against Francis X. McQuade for seeking to “wreck and destroy” the club. The team’s long-time club treasurer countersues, and the NY Supreme Court will eventually rule that he is entitled to back pay, not his job.
1940 The Indians trade Ben Chapman to the Senators for Joe Krakauskas, a southpaw who will post a 3-7 record during his three years with Cleveland. In May, Washington will release Chapman, who will finish the season with the White Sox, batting .226 in 57 games for his team.
1949 Los Angeles County General admits Grover Cleveland Alexander after he is found unconscious in an alley near his Hollywood apartment. The seriously ill Hall of Famer, who will spend several days in the hospital before being released, suffers from alcoholism and epilepsy.
1959 The Braves sign 20-year-old outfielder Rico Carty, who, after spending four years in the minors, will hit .330 in his first season with the club, finishing second to Dick Allen for Rookie of the Year honors in 1964. During his eight years with the team, the Dominican outfielder will hit .317 before being traded to Texas for right-hander Jim Panther before the 1973 campaign.
1967 While skiing at Lake Tahoe, Red Sox right-hander Jim Lonborg (22-9) tears the ligaments in his left knee. After surgery, last season’s Cy Young Award winner will rush his comeback, damaging his rotator cuff.
1969 “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.” – CURT FLOOD, responding to being traded to Philadelphia.
In a letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Curt Flood states his refusal to report to the Phillies after being traded by the Cardinals, citing he is not a piece of property to be sold. The MLB Players Association announces support for the outfielder’s suit against baseball and agrees to pay the legal fees for the case that eventually goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1990 The Expos trade 31-year-old outfielder Tim Raines and two minor leaguers to the White Sox for outfielder Ivan Calderon and reliever Barry Jones. ‘Rock,’ a career .300 hitter, will play a key role in Chicago’s two divisional titles during his five-year tenure with the team.
2002 In a deal that prompts Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino to label the Yankees an evil empire, Cuban defector Jose Contreras reaches an agreement with New York. The 31-year-old right-hander, considered the top pitcher on Cuba’s national team, was declared a free agent after gaining residency in Nicaragua.
2004 Ranger manager Johnny Oates, who retired 28 games into the 2001 season, finishing with a 506-476 (.515) record during his seven seasons with the team, passes away at 58 on Christmas Eve from a brain tumor first diagnosed in 2002. Next season, Texas retires jersey #26 and adds a commemorative patch to the right sleeve of their uniform to honor their likable skipper.
2004 After Jason Varitek receives a $40 million, four-year deal, the Red Sox surprise their veteran catcher by naming him the team captain. Joining Jimmie Foxx, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice, the 32-year-old switch-hitting backstop learns of the honor when presented with home and road jerseys bearing a red “C” during the press conference announcing his contract.
2005 After agreeing to a one-year, $1 million contract, Mike Stanton will become the first player in Nationals’ history to have played with the team twice in its short tenure. After coming in from the Washington bullpen for the last three months of the 2005 season, the 38-year-old southpaw reliever was traded to the Red Sox for right-handed prospects Rhys Taylor and Yader Peralta.
2009 Former Detroit closer Fernando Rodney signs an $11 million, two-year contract with the Angels. The 32-year-old right-handed reliever, who saved 37 games with only one blown opportunity last season, is expected to compete with the team’s current closer Brian Fuentes, the major league leader in saves in 2009, for the coveted spot in the bullpen.
2009 Matt Capps and the Nationals reach a preliminary agreement on a $3.5 million, one-year contract, with an additional $425,000 included in performance bonuses for games finished by the closer. In July, Washington will trade its 26-year-old right-handed All-Star reliever to the Twins for highly-touted backstop prospect Wilson Ramos and minor league southpaw Joe Testa.
2010 Ricky Nolasco, recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, has agreed to a $26.5 million, three-year deal to stay with the Marlins. The Florida right-hander, who has compiled a 54-39 record along with a 4.45 ERA during his five seasons with the Fish, will remain the team’s #2 starter behind Josh Johnson.
SPORTS IN NUMBERS
11 – 20 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 6
December 24, 1921 – Ottawa’s Harry Broadbent scored in 10-0 Senators blowout of the Montreal Canadiens; first in 16-game NHL record goal-scoring streak. Long time LA Kings Number 11, Charlie Simmer’s 13 game streak (1979) is considered modern-day record
December 24, 1961 – AFL Championship, Balboa Stadium, San Diego: Houston Oilers beat San Diego Chargers 10-3; Number 20, Billy Cannon scored the game’s only TD
December 24, 1968 – Ballon d’Or: Manchester United’s winger Number 7, Number 8, Number 9, and Number 11, George Best wins award for best European football player ahead of teammate Number 9, Bobby Charlton and Red Star Belgrade winger Number 11, Dragan Džajić. Best was the first Northern Irish national to win the award
December 24, 1974 – MLB St Louis Cardinals Number 20, Lou Brock was named as the Sportsman of the Year
December 24, 1985 – Ballon d’Or: Juventus’ French midfielder Number 10, Michel Platini was named as Europe’s best football player for the 3rd consecutive time; beats Verona striker Number 11, Preben Elkjær and Barcelona midfielder Number 8, Bernd Schuster
December 24, 1991 – Ballon d’Or: Marseille forward Number 9, Jean-Pierre Papin was named as Europe’s best football player. Papin was the first from the French League to win the trophy
December 24, 1995 – Ballon d’Or: PSG/Milan’s Liberian striker Number 9, George Weah was named Europe’s best soccer player. This was the first edition where players born outside Europe permitted to receive votes
December 24, 1996 – Ballon d’Or: Borussia Dortmund’s German sweeper Number 6, Matthias Sammer was named as the best football player in Europe ahead of PSV/Barcelona striker Number 9, Ronaldo and Newcastle United striker Number 9, Alan Shearer
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL – MEN’S||TIME ET||TV|
|DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC||12:30AM||ESPN2|
|COLLEGE FOOTBALL||TIME ET||TV|
|EASYPOST HAWAI’I BOWL: MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS. SAN DIEGO STATE||8:00PM||ESPN|
|NFL REGULAR SEASON GAMES||TIME ET||TV|
|BUFFALO AT CHICAGO||1:00PM||CBS|
|NEW ORLEANS AT CLEVELAND||1:00PM||CBS|
|HOUSTON AT TENNESSEE||1:00PM||CBS|
|SEATTLE AT KANSAS CITY||1:00PM||FOX|
|NY GIANTS AT MINNESOTA||1:00PM||FOX|
|CINCINNATI AT NEW ENGLAND||1:00PM||CBS|
|DETROIT AT CAROLINA||1:00PM||FOX|
|ATLANTA AT BALTIMORE||1:00PM||FOX|
|WASHINGTON AT SAN FRANCISCO||4:05PM||CBS|
|PHILADELPHIA AT DALLAS||4:25PM||FOX|
|LAS VEGAS AT PITTSBURGH||8:15PM||NFLN|
|FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP||5:00PM||NBC|
|SUPER LIG: TRABZONSPOR VS FENERBAHÇE||11:00AM||BEIN SPORTS|
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL – MEN’S||TIME ET||TV|
|DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC||1:30PM||ESPNU|
|DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC||3:30PM||ESPNU|
|DEPAUL AT CREIGHTON||4:30PM||FOX|
|DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC||6:30PM||ESPN2|
|DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC||8:30PM||ESPN2|
|NBA REGULAR SEASON GAMES||TIME ET||TV|
|PHILADELPHIA AT NEW YORK||12:00PM||ABC|
|LA LAKERS AT DALLAS||2:30PM||ABC|
|MILWAUKEE AT BOSTON||5:00PM||ABC|
|MEMPHIS AT GOLDEN STATE||8:00PM||ABC|
|PHOENIX AT DENVER||10:30PM||ABC|
|NFL REGULAR SEASON GAMES||TIME ET||TV|
|GREEN BAY AT MIAMI||1:00PM||FOX|
|DENVER AT LA RAMS||4:30PM||CBS|
|TAMPA BAY AT ARIZONA||8:20PM||NBC|
|SUPER LIG: GALATASARAY VS İSTANBULSPOR||11:00AM||BEIN SPORTS|