🎄 The Must-Watch List 🎄
The Sportsletter Team is off for the holidays until Jan. 4, 2021.
With that in mind, we wanted to leave you with a little something to keep you on your game over the holiday break — The Sportsletter’s Holiday Sports Guide! Here’s what we’re watching the next two weeks.
But first, today’s headlines.
📰 TODAY’S HEADLINES
The Playoff Before the Playoffs
This Weekend’s Conference Championships Will Determine the CFB Playoffs
The final CFB Playoff Rankings will be revealed on Sunday (Noon ET, ESPN). But first, the Power-5 conference championships will determine who’s in and who’s out in the next 48 hours. Will it be the same four teams we’ve watched all season? Or will we see a shocking upset that snaps the cycle.
Pac-12 Championship (Fri. Dec. 18)
#13 USC vs. Oregon (8:00 pm ET, FOX)
Big Ten Championship (Sat. Dec. 19)
#4 Ohio State vs. #14 Northwestern (Noon ET, FOX)
Big 12 Championship (Sat. Dec. 19)
#6 Iowa State vs. #10 Oklahoma (Noon ET, ABC)
ACC Championship (Sat. Dec. 19)
#2 Notre Dame vs. #3 Clemson (4:00 pm ET, ABC)
SEC Championship (Sat. Dec. 19)
#1 Alabama vs. #7 Florida (8:00 pm ET, CBS)
College Football Bowl Game Schedule
*A number of bowl games are still TBD
SI: In A Tumultuous Season, the ACC Has Risen Above the Rest
FTW: Breaking Down the CFB Playoff Scenarios for Conference Title Weekend
The Final Stretch
The Most Important NFL Matchups in the Final 3 Weeks
We’ve analyzed the NFL playoff race throughout the last month, but it all comes down to the next three weeks. Four teams have already clinched playoff spots (Packers, Chiefs, Steelers and Saints), but five teams can add their names to the postseason this weekend (Bills, Titans, Rams, Seahawks and Bucs). Here are the most important games during the NFL’s final stretch.
NFL: Week 15 (Dec. 19-21)
Bucs at Falcons (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, FOX)
Patriots at Dolphins (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, CBS)
Seahawks at Washington (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, FOX)
Chiefs at Saints (Sun. 4:25 pm ET, CBS)
Browns at Giants (Sun. 8:20 pm ET, NBC)
NFL: Week 16 (Dec. 25-28)
Vikings at Saints (Fri. 4:30 pm ET, FOX)
Dolphins at Raiders (Sat. 8:15 pm ET, NFL)
Colts at Steelers (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, CBS)
Rams at Seahawks (Sun. 4:25 pm ET, FOX)
Titans at Packers (Sun. 8:20 pm ET, NBC)
Bills at Patriots (Mon. 8:15 pm ET, ESPN)
NFL: Week 17 (Jan. 3)
Dolphins at Bills (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, CBS)
Packers at Bears (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, FOX)
Steelers at Browns (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, CBS)
Washington at Eagles (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, FOX)
Cardinals at Rams (Sun. 4:25 pm ET, FOX)
ESPN: The NFL Playoff Machine (Playoff Scenario Simulator)
USA Today: Chiefs & Saints Square Off in Week 15 Potential Super Bowl Preview
Run It Back: The NBA Restart
The NBA Returns After the Shortest Offseason in League History
A mere 72 days separate the end of the 2019-20 NBA season and the beginning of the 2020-21 calendar. The offseason was brief but jam-packed with free agency news, draft acquisitions and promise of a new year. Two of the biggest stars in the game make their returns for opening night — Kevin Durant & Steph Curry — and a five-pack of Christmas Day games remain an NBA tradition. Here are the biggest games of opening week, but there’s an endless supply of NBA action throughout the break.
Opening Night (Tuesday, Dec. 22)
Warriors at Nets (7:00 pm ET, TNT)
Clippers at Lakers (10:00 pm ET, TNT)
Christmas Day (Friday, Dec. 25)
Pelicans at Heat (Noon ET, ESPN)
Warriors at Bucks (2:30 pm ET, ABC)
Nets at Celtics (5:00 pm ET, ABC)
Mavericks at Lakers (8:00 pm ET, ESPN)
Clippers at Nuggets (10:30 pm ET, ESPN)
The Ringer: NBA Power Rankings: Starting From the Bottom
B/R: Predicting the Next Wave of NBA Stars to Demand a Trade
College Hoops On Tap
The Top-10 College Basketball Games Over the Break (Men’s & Women’s)
There’s nothing better than holiday hoops. And while the events of 2020 have shaken the schedule, there are a number of marquee matchups that still have the green light. Here are our top-10 college basketball games to watch over the holidays (men’s and women’s) in chronological order.
1. Saturday (Dec. 19)
M: #3 Iowa vs. #1 Gonzaga (Noon ET)
2. Sunday (Dec. 20)
M: #13 Illinois vs. #19 Rutgers (1:00 pm ET)
3. Monday (Dec. 21)
W: #1 Stanford vs. #11 UCLA (3:00 pm ET)
4. Tuesday (Dec. 22)
M: #5 Kansas vs. #8 W. Virginia (9:00 pm ET)
5. Friday (Dec. 25)
M: #4 Mich. State vs. #12 Wisconsin (12:30 pm ET)
6. Saturday (Dec. 26)
M: #1 Gonzaga vs. #17 Virginia (4:00 pm ET)
7. Thursday (Dec. 31)
W: #9 Kentucky vs. #12 Arkansas (8:30 pm ET)
8. Friday (Jan. 1)
W: #1 Stanford vs. #6 Arizona (TBD)
9. Saturday (Jan. 2)
M: #5 Kansas vs. #11 Texas (TBD)
10. Sunday (Jan. 3)
W: #11 UCLA vs. #7 Oregon (TBD)
Other Events to Watch
🏈 The CFB Playoff Announcement
The College Football Playoff Committee reveals the Top-4 teams in the playoff on Sunday (Dec. 20) at Noon ET, just one day after the final games of the regular season. You can watch the reveal on ESPN.
🏈 The Heisman Trophy Presentation
The schedule for the most prestigious award in college football looks a little different this season. The Heisman Trophy finalists will be revealed on Thursday (Dec. 24) while the virtual ceremony will be held Tuesday, Jan. 5.
⚽️ Boxing Day (English Premier League)
The English tradition of “Boxing Day” arrives next Saturday (Dec. 26) with a full slate of English Premier League matches. This year’s schedule features Manchester United vs. Leicester City (7:30 am ET) and Arsenal vs. Chelsea (12:30 pm ET).
What’s Next in 2021?
The Sportsletter crew wants to say thank you for sticking with us through such a challenging time. In a year when sports were shut down for almost four months, we were forced to navigate the hurdles of unique seasons and schedules. Even so, you came back each morning to spend a few minutes with us. Thank you.
When we come back in 2021, we’ll dive into the College Football National Championship, crown a Heisman Trophy winner, and go all-in on the NFL Playoffs. You can also look forward to more original content, underdog features and exciting new additions to our platform. The show goes on.
We’ll return to your inbox on Monday, Jan. 4. Stay safe, enjoy the holidays and watch a lot of sports. As we say…