The Lists

This Week in Sports Talk: December 15, 2019

top headlines this week in sports December 15 2019

This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines and sports news, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of December 15, 2019, here’s the top sports news, with a twist. Skim it, and you’ll be good to go all week.

This Week in Sports Talk: December 15, 2019

We begin with some short takes in sports news heading into the week of December 15, 2019.

navy rolls over army

In their annual rivalry game, the US Naval Academy Midshipmen beat the US Army’s Black Knights 31-7.

The top news in sports heading into the week of December 15, 2019: in the Army-Navy Game 2019, Navy snapped a three-year losing streak.

Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry dominated throughout the game, ending a three-game losing streak against rival Army.

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US recovers to win the Presidents Cup

For the first time in 14 years, heading into Day Four the International team led the competition in golfing’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia. Tiger Woods’ United States team faced Ernie Els’ International team. The expectation was that the US would easily win its eighth-straight victory this year. But the International team generated a 4-1 victory on Day One. Team USA rallied in the later rounds, though, to earn the win.

The top news in sports heading into the week of December 15, 2019: Team USA playing partners Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods on the 18th green during the 2019 President’s Cup. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.

Heisman Trophy awarded

The finalists for the 2019 Heisman Trophy were LSU quarterback Joe Burrow; Ohio State teammates quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young; and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Last night in New York, the prize went to Burrow in a landslide vote. The transfer quarterback won with the largest margin of victory and the most first-place votes ever.

Louisiana State Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

He’s the third consecutive transfer quarterback to win the Heisman, following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.

As a reminder, the College Football Championship playoffs are set, with #4 Oklahoma at #1 LSU for the Peach Bowl. And #3 Clemson at #2 Ohio State for the Fiesta Bowl. Teams 1-3 are all undefeated this season.

Top Sports Headlines heading into the week of December 15, 2019

Now that we’re warmed up, here’s everything else you need to know about sports heading into the week of December 15, 2019:

1. NFL

Must Know:

There are just three weeks to go in the regular season, and the playoffs berths are the focus from here on in. Three teams have clinched a playoff spot so far: the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. That leaves nine slots to be filled.

the current NFL playoff picture

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens are likely to cement their number one seed either this weekend (if Kansas City losses or ties and the Pats lose) or next.

The Ravens look unbeatable right now, and their quarterback Lamar Jackson appears likely to be the MVP this year.

The dude is so good that Thursday night, after Jackson threw for five touchdowns and defeated the New York Jets 42-21, some of the players on the opposing team lined up to get his autograph. Jackson displayed the behavior of a true gentleman, even asking the equipment manager to round up a couple of extra jerseys for him to sign and give away to Jets players. “I didn’t want to say no, because different people were hitting me up,” he explained.

The top news in sports heading into the week of December 15, 2019: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson signs autographs for Jets players after beating them 42-21 in Thursday Night Football.

In terms of AFC rankings, it’s likely that the Pats will be second seed, then Kansas City, with the Houston Texans fourth. Although the Tennessee Titans are charging hard, so that’s TBD after today’s game. That would leave the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers as the AFC Wild Cards.

The NFC playoff picture appears to be shaping up as follows: the San Francisco 49’ers first, followed by the Saints, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles. The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings would slot in as the NFC Wild Cards.

NFL Games in week 15 with playoff implications

One of the big games this week is the Buffalo Bills (9-4) at the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5). Many are mentioning Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin as the coach of the year. He’s taken his Steelers to an 8 – 5 record with a 3rd string quarterback (after starter Ben Rothlesberger was injured) and the loss to free agency of former stars Antonio Brown and Le’vVeon Bell.

The LA Rams (8-5) at Dallas (6-7) is also an important game to determine whether the Rams will get the second wild card spot in the NFC playoffs. And Houston (8-5) is at Tennessee (8-5); the two teams are fighting this week for the AFC South title.

Finally, the Chicago Bears (7-6) are at the Green Bay Packers (10-3). If the Packers win, they’ll be in position to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

Nice to Know:

At one point in Monday Night Football, it appeared that the New York Giants’ Eli Manning was going to lead his team (2-11) to victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7). At the end of the first half the Giants had a 17-3 lead. But then Philly woke up, rallied to score 20 points and won in overtime, 23-17.

As of this posting, since Daniel Jones is still out, Manning will start in today’s game against the Miami Dolphins (3-10). It’s still hard for some to believe, but the Giants actually have a worse record than the Dolphins heading into this game. Ugh.

In other Giants news, Janoris “Jack Rabbit” Jenkins was cut after a Twitter exchange with a fan where he use the term “retard,” and then botched the apology. 

Extra Credit:

The New England Patriots (10-3) have admitted that they were in violation of NFL rules last Sunday when a video crew hired by the team illegally filmed the playing field in Cleveland for 30 minutes during the Cincinnati Bengals game against the Browns. The Pats said the three-person video crew was there  to film “a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be an advance scout in the NFL.”

This is a repeat of a prior video scandal, where the Pats were accused of stealing signals from opposing teams by taping the coaches and trying to divine the meaning of the symbols. How you feel about all of this is 100% dependent on whether or not you’re a member of Patriots Nation. We’re staying out of it.

bonus round:

Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady challenged Lamar Jackson to a 40-year-old’s race. But he stipulated that Lamar had to wear roller blades and the race had to be on grass. Lamar was understandably leery. No word on whether this Old Dudes’ Race is really gonna happen. If it does, we’ll definitely let you know.

2. NBA

Must Know:

LeBron James is definitely having a “bounce back” year with the LA Lakers. The Lakers are tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the NBA at 22-3. 

Nice to Know: 

Superstar of the NBA playoffs Kawhi Leonard returned to Toronto on Wednesday night and was given a hero’s welcome, complete with cheers and MVP chants. After his new team the LA Clippers won the game, he received his NBA Championship ring.

Which got us to wondering: was Drake in the crowd? Regular readers of the TWIST will recall that the rapper is a Toronto native and a Raptors super-fan. He almost got booted out of the stands during the playoffs due to his emotional (and somewhat odd) outbursts of support for his team.

The Toronto Raptors 2019 Championship ring. Courtesy Photo.

Sure enough, when we Googled it, we learned that earlier this fall, Toronto Raptors players received the biggest championship rings in NBA history. Each ring has 640 diamonds, more than any other professional championship ring. They also sport the largest single diamond ever.

At about that same time that the players received their official rings, Drake showed off a custom $150,000 NBA championship ring that was designed for him by Jason of Beverley Hills. 

And they say diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Beg to differ . . . 

Extra credit:

The Cleveland Cavaliers have said they’re officially ready to talk about a Kevin Love trade.

3. MLB

Must Know:

The free agency period for Major League Baseball got off to a roaring start this week at the annual Winter Meetings.

The New York Yankees signed ace Gerrit Cole, formerly of the Houston Astros, to a record-breaking nine-year $324 million contract. The pinstripes had been chasing Cole ever since the 2008 MLB Draft.

Now the Yankees are the odds-on favorites to win the 2020 World Series, having “won the off-season.”  Our Sports Desk says that might be just a bit premature . . . 

top headlines in the world of sports week of december 15 2019

The top news in sports heading into the week of December 15, 2019: the Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking contract.

Meanwhile, the World Champion Washington Nationals agreed to terms to retain their ace Stephen Strasburg, signing a seven-year $245 million deal.

Nice to know:

Less than 24 hours after they lost Gerrit Cole to the Yankees, the LA Angels agreed to a deal with the top hitter on the market: Anthony Rendon. The Angels now have one of the best offensive duos in all of baseball with Rendon and Mike Trout. But they still desperately need pitching talent.

In a fun fact, one agent brokered the deals for Strasbourg, Cole and Rendon: that would be Scott Boras. Dude, that’s a total of $800 million in deals in one week. With these three deals, Boras has now signed three of the nine most lucrative contracts in baseball today. It’s estimated that Boras will earn almost $30 million in commissions in the 2020 season.

Another fun fact? Both Strasburg and Cole will make over a $1 million per start in the 2020 season.

Extra Credit:

The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal with former New York Yankee free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius. He’ll be reuniting with former Yankees skipper Joe Girardi.  

This Week in Sports News December 15, 2019

That’s it. You’re good to go with the top headlines and coming attractions heading into the week of December 15, 2019. Have a good one, and see you next week.

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