Monday Morning Wrap-Up
It was a crazy weekend, as the weekend before Christmas usually is, but the sports world never stops. The NFL was at the forefront of it all with games on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and still one more tonight. Some Boise State news broke over the weekend and college football bowl season kicked off.
Here’s what you missed while you were traveling over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house.
NFL Playoff Picture Gets a Bit Clearer
The biggest story over the weekend was the NFL playoff race, which got a bit clearer over the weekend. Seeding is still up in the air, as there are a few divisions left to be decided. So let’s break it down.
The New England Patriots clinched a first-round bye with a one-point win over the New York Jets, but whether or not the AFC will go through New England is left to be decided. The Denver Broncos can get a first-round bye for themselves with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. As far as home field advantage, the Patriots can claim that with a win over the Bills next week. If they lose to the Bills, the Broncos will need a win tonight and next week over the Raiders to snatch it away from the Patriots.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on their way to the playoffs and will either be the three seed or the five seed. Steelers can win the AFC North (and the three seed) with a win over the Bengals next Sunday. If they lose, five seed.
The Indianapolis Colts were flat out embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon, losing 42-7. Andrew Luck was benched after turning the ball over a few times and not being able to get anything done on offense. Luckily for the Colts they’ve already clinched the AFC South, but again seeding is still up in the air. They’ll either be the three or four seed depending upon a few scenarios involving other teams.
The Bengals haven’t secured a playoff berth quite yet and will need a win over the Broncos tonight and against the Steelers next week OR (of course there is an or – Goodell forbid it’s easy) the Chargers and Ravens both lose next week. If the Bengals beat the Steelers, they’ll also win the AFC North title and they still could grab a first-round bye with two wins and a Denver loss next week.
The Chargers, Ravens, Texans, and Chiefs are still in the hunt. Chargers kept their hopes alive with a comeback win in overtime against the 49ers on Saturday and will need a win over the Chiefs next week. Baltimore will get in with a win over Cleveland and a Chargers loss. JJ Watt and the Texans making a last-minute push to get in and can do so with a win over the Jaguars PLUS a Chargers and Ravens loss. As for the Chiefs, they need to beat the Chargers and hope the Ravens and Texans lose.
The Seattle Seahawks annihilated the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night Football. They looked absolutely unstoppable. Both teams are already on their way to the playoffs, but Seattle can win the NFC West and the one seed as long as Green Bay and Detroit don’t tie. The Cardinals will be cheering for the Rams on Sunday, as a Seahawks loss will result in the Cardinals winning the NFC West. They can also get the one seed with a win AND if the Seahawks, Cowboys, and Packers all lose. If Arizona wants a first-round bye to try to heal up those injuries, they’ll need to beat the 49ers and hope Seattle, Dallas, and Detroit all lose.
Speaking of Detroit, they’re on their way to the playoffs as well and can win the NFC North AND a first-round bye with a win over Green Bay. If the Seahawks and Cardinals both lose, the Lions will clinch the one seed. The Packers loss to the Bills keeps looking more and more important as these games play out. They’re already on their way to the playoffs, but can win the NFC North and a first-round bye if they beat the Lions. If the Seahawks and Cardinals both lose, they’ll get the one seed.
The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East after stomping the Colts, plus a little help from the Redskins over the weekend. They can get a first-round bye if the Seahawks and Cardinals both lose, no matter the outcome against Washington.
The Carolina Panthers kept themselves alive with a win this weekend and can win the NFC South and the four seed with a win or tie against the Falcons. The Falcons can win the NFC South and the four seed if they beat the Panthers.
Okay, so did you get all that? Basically, the NFC is pretty locked down already with the exception of the NFC South. Week 16 matters for a lot of teams in terms of seeding and byes and home field advantage, so we’re in for some great games in the final week of the 2014 NFL regular season.
College Football Bowl Season is Upon us!
Let there be bowl games! There were five bowl games this weekend to start about three weeks of the best of the best (theoretically) facing off in games with weird trophies, huge payouts, and ridiculously named sponsor-laced affairs (the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, really?). Here’s what you missed and what’s coming up this week:
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
22 Utah vs. Colorado State
The mighty PAC12 vs. the little brother Mountain West! A showdown made for the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately for the Mountain West, big brother came out on top and I mean really on top. Utah cruised to a 45-10 victory over the Rams.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
South Alabama vs. Bowling Green
I don’t know a whole lot about either of these teams, but it looked like it could’ve been a close game. Bowling Green won, 33-28. Has anyone ever heard of this bowl or nah?
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Air Force
Air Force handed Boise State one of its only losses this season and took down another Bronco team on the Blue. Thankfully, it was the Broncos of Western Michigan who fell to the Falcons, 38-24.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Utah State vs. UTEP
Another Mountain West team was on display in the New Mexico Bowl, as Utah State took on UTEP. The Aggies sailed to a 21-6 victory.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Nevada vs. LA-Lafayette
More Mountain West action! Except this time the Wolfpack weren’t as successful as their other conference-mates. The Ragin’ Cajuns were victorious, 16-3.
Miami Beach Bowl
BYU vs. Memphis – Dec. 22, 2:00 PM ET
Ahh, nothing like a Beach Bowl in the middle of a Monday. BYU will face the Memphis Tigers today at noon MT on ESPN if you don’t have a job to work like the rest of the world does.
Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall vs. Northern Illinois – Dec 23, 6:00 PM ET
Marshall had high hopes of making a New Years Six bowl, which Boise State kindly ripped away from them. Instead, they travel to Boca Raton, FL to take on Northern Illinois in a Tuesday afternoon showdown.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Navy vs. San Diego State – Dec 23, 9:30 PM ET
In the bowl game with the longest name, Mountain West foe San Diego State will take on Navy. The teams have identical records at 7-5 so maybe it will be a good game to have on in the background or to use as an excuse to ignore family.
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky – Dec 24, 12:00 PM ET
In the bowl game with the best name, two more 7-5 teams face off on Christmas Eve morning (for us Mountain timers).
Fresno State vs. Rice – Dec 24, 8:00 PM ET
Wait, did every team in the Mountain West except Wyoming make a bowl game? The 6-7 Fresno State Bulldogs will face Rice on Christmas Eve in Hawaii. Whatever – football is football.
Jay Ajayi Off to the NFL
Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin called a press conference yesterday afternoon to announce that running back Jay Ajayi will be foregoing his last year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Ajayi is currenly Matt Miller’s eighth running back on his draft board for 2015. Ajayi has been projected to be anywhere from a second rounder to a fourth rounder. His stock can rise with a huge performance in the Fiesta Bowl against Arizona.