Hey Team 👋
Happy Friday. The first week of the year is always the longest. This one especially. Let’s celebrate with the first-ever NFL Super Wild-Card Weekend Pick’em. Select the winners of all six NFL games this weekend for a chance to win cool prizes from The Sportsletter Store, or see your name among the top scorers next week. Then, check back Monday for a pop quiz on the playoff drama (quizzes can be fun, too).
🏈 Play Super Wild-Card Pick’em
The 1st Super Wild-Card Weekend
A New Era in NFL Postseason History Has Arrived
Welcome to what’s being dubbed “Super Wild-Card Weekend” in the NFL’s new postseason format. The league voted to increase the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams this season, and the result is two extra games in the first week of the playoffs. Only the No. 1 seeds get a first-round bye (Packers and Chiefs). Here’s a look at some of the epic matchups, previews and point spreads this weekend:
Colts at Bills (1:05 pm ET, CBS)
A pair of No. 17s go head-to-head in a youth vs. wisdom battle between the quarterbacks of the Colts and Bills. Third-year QB Josh Allen has led the Bills to a 13-3 record with his 37 TDs and 10 INTs. Buffalo hasn’t lost since Nov. 15 (six games), but the Colts and QB Phillip Rivers are a dangerous 7-seed. (Bills: -7)
Rams at Seahawks (4:40 pm ET, FOX)
An intra-division rivalry game in the NFC West gives us a third meeting this year between the Rams and Seahawks. They split the first two games, but Rams QB Jared Goff is questionable with a thumb injury. John Wolford could make just his second NFL start in the playoffs. (Seahawks: -4.5)
Bucs at Washington (8:15 pm ET, NBC)
The most intriguing Saturday matchup features 43-year-old Tom Brady against the relentless Washington defensive line. Rookie pass-rusher Chase Young was caught giving the Bucs some bulletin board material last week, but TB12 in the playoffs still deserves respect. It’s Brady’s first time (21 seasons) as a wild card. (Bucs: -8)
Ravens at Titans (1:05 pm ET, ABC)
On Sunday, it’s a rematch of last year’s AFC semi-final where the Titans stunned the Ravens (28-12). The second edition of this AFC rivalry again features the 2015 and 2016 Heisman Trophy winners and rushing record-breakers in RB Derrick Henry (2,027 yards) and QB Lamar Jackson (1,005 yards). (Ravens: -3.5)
Bears at Saints (4:40 pm ET, CBS)
The Chicago Bears enter the NFC playoffs as the lowest seed after they dropped six straight games this season, but QB Mitch Trubisky has regained his confidence. Unfortunately for Chicago, a healthy Drew Brees in what could be his final season will be a tough undertaking in the Superdome. (Saints: -9.5)
Browns at Steelers (8:15 pm ET, NBC)
The game everyone will be watching. The Steelers started the year 11-0 before an epic collapse — just 1-4 in their final five games. More importantly, the Browns make their first postseason appearance in 18 years (2002), and they’ll do so without their first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. Peg this one as an epic AFC North showdown you can’t miss. (Steelers: -4)
Playoff season is here. Now let’s hope we reach the Super Bowl unscathed.
*All links to wild card game previews. Betting lines subject to change.
The Mets Are Making Moves
New York Acquires Francisco Lindor & Carlos Carrasco in Blockbuster Trade With Cleveland
Steve Cohen is getting to work. The New York Mets’ new owner made a splash on Thursday with the latest blockbuster trade of the MLB offseason. New York acquired all-star short stop Francisco Lindor and starting right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. The six-player trade is a win-now move for Cohen who made promises to vault the Mets into immediate success when he bought the club in November.
Mets Get: SS Francisco Lindor, RHP Carlos Carrasco
Indians Get: SS Andres Gimenez, SS Amed Rosario & 2 Prospects
Lindor is coming off one of his least productive seasons in 2020, but he still hit .258 with eight home runs. The 27-year-old averaged 34 dingers per season while hitting .278 in the three previous years (2017-2019).
The Ringer: Cleveland Could’ve Kept Lindor, They Just Valued Money More
CBS Sports: Mets Pull Off Heist, Which Is Bad News for Cleveland & NL East
The Bubble Worked, This Doesn’t
76ers’ Seth Curry Tests Positive for COVID-19 Mid-Game
We’re less than 10 games into the NBA season, and another team is dealing with a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Philadelphia 76ers’ guard Seth Curry returned a positive test and was pulled from Thursday night’s game after being on the court for the first quarter. The game continued — a 122-109 win for the Brooklyn Nets — but now the NBA is left to pick up the pieces. The Sixers are currently quarantined in their New York hotel while team officials conduct contact tracing for both squads. Philadelphia was hot, too, riding a league-best 7-1 start before last night’s loss.
Other NBA Highlights
Doncic Outlasts Denver: Luka Doncic was at it again. The Mavericks’ superstar poured in a 38-13-9 outing last night to beat the Nuggets (124-117) after Nikola Jokic sent the game to OT with a buzzer-beater from the corner.
Lillard Lights Up the T-Wolves: Damian Lillard delivered a firework show for the Blazers in a win Thursday night. He tallied 39 points on seven 3-pointers as Portland hung 135 on the Timberwolves (135-117).
Lakers Slip Against the Spurs: The defending champs suffered their first loss of 2021 last night to the Spurs (118-109). LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 50 points, but they went 13 players deep in the rotation to continue combatting fatigue of a short offseason.
🏈 The Best NFL Team Money Can Buy
A 53-man roster under the salary cap using actual cap numbers with certain parameters was assembled at the start of the season. The composition of the roster has changed dramatically in this end of the season version… Here’s the best NFL roster money can buy. (CBS Sports)
🏈 A Letter to Bills Mafia, Part II
Mafia, we told them!! We told them this bandwagon wasn’t open for business. We told them this THING we’ve been building, it’s more than just a team, it’s more than just some roster of guys…. it’s a movement. (Dion Dawkins, The Players’ Tribune)
🏈 Expert Picks for Wild-Card Weekend
It’s the wildest wild-card weekend ever, with six games on the schedule as the NFL begins its postseason march to Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa… We asked our experts not only to make their weekly upset picks but about which QB is under the gun this weekend, and more. (ESPN)
📰 THE HEADLINES
Jets Interview Marvin Lewis for Head Coach Vacancy
Texans QB Deshaun Watson Involved in Trade Request Rumors
🗓️ WEEKEND SCHEDULE
The Must-Watch List
The NFL Playoffs have arrived! This weekend features the first-ever six-game playoff weekend within the 14-team format. Three games on Saturday and Sunday will bring us to the NFL’s last eight Super Bowl contenders by Monday morning. Then we’ll crown a National Champion in college football on Monday night. Enjoy the weekend!
NFL Playoffs (Saturday)
#7 Colts at #2 Bills (1:05 pm ET, CBS)
#6 Rams at #3 Seahawks (4:40 pm ET, FOX)
#5 Bucs at #4 Washington (8:15 pm ET, NBC)
NFL Playoffs (Sunday)
#5 Ravens at #4 Titans (1:05 pm ET, ABC)
#7 Bears at #2 Saints (4:40 pm ET, CBS)
#6 Browns at #3 Steelers (8:15 pm ET, NBC)
Clippers at Warriors (Fri. 10:00 pm ET, ESPN)
Nuggets at 76ers (Sat. 3:00 pm ET, NBATV)
Heat at Celtics (Sun. 7:00 pm ET, NBATV)
NCAA Basketball (Men’s)
#4 Texas vs. #14 W. Virginia (Sat. 1:00 pm ET)
#16 Minnesota vs. #5 Iowa (Sun. 2:30 pm ET)
NCAA Basketball (Women’s)
#11 Baylor vs. #1 Stanford (Fri. 2:30 pm ET)
#5 S. Carolina vs. #10 Kentucky (Sat. 5:00 pm ET)
Sentry Tournament of Champions (All Weekend)