The Lists

Top 10 Headlines to Know About Sports This Week

this week in sports headlines December 12 2021

This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines and current news events from the past seven days in the world of pro sports, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of December 12, 2021, here are the top 10 headlines you need to know about to understand and join the conversation this week about sports, including football, hockey and basketball news.

top 10 headlines to know to join the talk about sports this week: December 12, 2021

major league soccer

Yesterday, the New York City Football Club (“FC”) won their first MLS Cup in franchise history. They defeated the Portland Timbers on the road in Oregon via a penalty shootout after the match ended 1-1 after regulation and extra time.

NYC Football Club wins the MLS Cup for the first time in franchise history. Photo Credit: LA Times.

Since neither team made a breakthrough goal in the 30 minutes of extra time, in the end, NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson delivered MVP-level performance. He made two saves in a 4-2 shootout win to clinch the title.

If we seem to be making a bit too much of a big deal about this, it’s in no small part because we here in Gotham have been without a national title in any sport in quite some time. The last Greater New York area national championship came in 2011, when the New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots.  So it’s been a minute. Let us savor it for just a few precious seconds. Thank you, America.

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Fates and Furies

This week, Tommy Fury withdrew from his upcoming December 18th pay-per-view bout with Jake Paul, citing medical reasons. Sophisticated types already know that Tommy is a pro boxer, a former star of Love Island – and the brother of heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury.

Tommy Fury. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

The Fury brothers and the Paul brothers (Jake of Bizaardvark fame and Logan the YouTube star) have been at each other for a while now. They all like running around with no shirts on, so we’re kind of bummed that this fight isn’t happening. ‘Cause beefcake. But fear not. The equally ripped Tyron Woodley will step in for the match.

Here’s what else you should know, heading into a new week, about the big stories in sports.

1. Highlights (and lowlights) of Week 13 in the NFL

The Lions Won!!!

The Detroit Lions (1-10-1) won a game for the first time this season, beating the Minnesota Vikings (6-7), 29-27, on Sunday. The emotional victory almost didn’t happen. Quarterback Jared Goff pulled off a 14-play, 75-yard drive in one minute and 50 seconds, capped by a game-winning touchdown to Amon-Ra St. Brown as time expired.

The Detroit Lions won their first game of the season last Sunday. Photo Credit: USA Today.

The team had dedicated the game to the victims of the Oakland County school shooting that happened just days before – and that poignant tribute seemed to fuel them on to the tight close. Good job, Lions. We’re proud of you.

Chargers, Bucs, Chiefs and Pats won, too

Also on Sunday, the LA Chargers (7-5) decisively beat the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5), 41-22. Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns. And the Los Angeles defense forced four Bengal turnovers, including three from quarterback Joe Burrow.

Tampa Bay’s (9-3) Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected on two touchdown passes for a 30-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons (5-7). The two now have 90 career touchdown connections in the record books, second only to Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the second-highest duo in NFL history on touchdown connections. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

TB12’s former team, the New England Patriots(9-4), beat the Buffalo Bills (7-5) Monday night in a hard-fought 14-10 victory. It’s the seventh straight victory for the Pats, and one that gives them a dominant position in the AFC.

meanwhile, the Giants lost . . .

And now the replacement dude is injured, too! New York Giants stand-in quarterback Mike Glennon got hurt in New York’s loss on Sunday to the Miami Dolphins. Jake Fromm was in line to start for the Giants in Week 14 against the Chargers, should Glennon not clear the concussion protocol. But it appears that Glennon is good to go for today’s game.

2. Week 14 Thursday Night NFL Game

CBS Sports notes that the largest blown lead in NFL regular-season history is 28 points. Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings almost made it 29. Minnesota had a 29-0 lead with under three minutes left in the third quarter. And then they nearly blew it all, scraping by with a 36-28 win. So their playoff hopes are still alive. The Vikings have played 13 games this season. Ten of them have come down to the final play. 

The Vikings squeaked past the Steelers after almost blowing a 29 point lead in Thursday Night Football. Phot Credit: Getty Images.

Meanwhile, the Steelers dropped from eighth to tenth in the AFC standings. And rumors persist that this will be “Big Ben” Roethlisberger’s  last year in a Steelers uniform, and that he’s likely retire at the end of the season.

3. NFL Playoff Picture Coming into Focus

Both conferences have potentially fascinating storylines as the competition heats up for the 14 combined postseason spots.

And the loudest most excited chatter is reserved for those who are now speculating that it’ll be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl early next year. With Bill Belichick winning Coach of the Year and Tom Brady securing one more MVP title. Could this happen? Absolutely. Will it happen? Stay tuned.

AFC

The field is crowded in the AFC North, while the AFC East has been fluid all season. Meanwhile, the New York Jets (3-9), Houston Texans (2-10) and the 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars (and No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence) are already done for the season.

As of this posting, the seven AFC teams seem to be shaping up this way. The New England Patriots (9-4) sit atop the AFC, closely followed by the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs (all at 8-4). The LA Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals are grouped together in the third tier (all at 7-5). Expect fierce competition for seeding (which determines who gets a bye week and who gets home field advantage).

The New England Patriots are currently at the top of the AFC. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Computer simulations say the race for the final playoff spot in the AFC is down to two teams: the Indianapolis Colts (7-6) and the Bengals (7-5).

NFC

In the NFC, as of this posting the Arizona Cardinals (10-2), Green Bay Packers (9-3) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) hold the top three spots. The Dallas Cowboys and LA Rams are at 8-4.

The Arizona Cardinals are currently at the top of the NFC. Photo Credit: USA Today.

That leaves a few teams potentially vying for the final two spots. Computer simulations indicate that the final wild-card spot in the NFC will come down to either the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) or the Washington Football Team (6-6). But the San Francisco 49ers (6-6) and the Minnesota Vikings (6-7) are still in the hunt, too.

4. NFL Week 14 – notable games still to come

On that note, there are a handful of key games on deck in the NFC East and AFC North.

Dallas Cowboys (8-4) at Washington Football Team (6-6)

Dallas travels to DC for a consequential game in the NFC East division race. Washington has won four straight and is playing outstanding defense. The Dallas offense hasn’t clicked as expected. But Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy guarantees a win today, telling the press “I’m confident in that.” This despite the fact that McCarthy is 0-2 against Washington since taking the Dallas job.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. Courtesy Photo.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Cleveland Browns (6-6)

Today the AFC North Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns meet again after having played just 2 weeks ago. And as our Sports Desk points out, in the interim the Browns had their bye week, so they are effectively playing two games in a row against the Ravens. The Ravens have struggled on offense in a big way for much of the past month. But the Browns have, too.

Buffalo Bills (7-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)

The Bills, after losing to New England on Monday night – in a game notable for its high winds and low number of passes by Pats quarterback Mac Jones – now have to play the Bucs and former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (aka the GOAT) in Tampa Bay. The Bucs are undefeated at home this season. And Brady is 35 – 3 against the Bills over the course of his NFL career – he has more wins against them as a franchise than any other quarterback.

Courtesy Photo.

LA Rams (8-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

The Rams and the Cards go at it on Monday Night Football. The Rams have made all kinds of boss moves to position themselves for the post season. A win against the Cards would be very helpful in that quest.

5. College Football

college football playoffs

The College Football Playoffs (CFP) are set. On New Year’s Eve, the Orange Bowl will see No. 2 Michigan face No. 3 Georgia. As Detroit natives, we can’t tell you how excited we are just to type those words! Number 2 Michigan. M Go Blue!!!

University of Michigan will play in the Orange Bowl 2021. Photo Credit: USA Today.

But we digress. Also on New Year’s Eve, the Cotton Bowl will feature No. 1 Alabama versus No. 4 Cincinnati. a Cincinnati team that broke the glass ceiling of the CFP, becoming the first program from outside the Power Five conferences to be chosen

Heisman winner announced in New York

This year’s four Heisman Trophy finalists – for college football’s Player of the Year – were Alabama QB Bryce Young, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud, Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson and Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett. Last night in New York, Young won the top honor.

Alabama’s Bryce Harper wins this year’s Heisman Trophy. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

A sophomore, Young entered the season with high expectations as the presumptive choice to replace former Crimson Tide quarterback and NFL first-round pick Mac Jones. In the season opener, he scored four touchdowns in a win over then-No. 14 Miami. He finished strong, too, first in a dramatic come-from-behind win at Auburn to close out the regular season. And then by beating No. 3 Georgia and its top ranked defense in the SEC championship game.

It’s hard to believe, given the team’s record under head coach Nick Saban – but Young is the first Crimson Tide quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Alabama becomes the sixth school to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith won it last year.

college football coaching changes

Just hours after firing Manny Diaz as its head football coach, Miami announced the hiring of Mario Cristobal away from Oregon. Cristobal was 35-13 in his time in Eugene and won the 2019 Rose Bowl.

Oregon football coach Mario Cristobal is headed for Miami. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

6. NBA Eastern Conference

The Brooklyn Nets are 18-8 season to date, putting them at the top of the Eastern Conference. Earlier this week the Nets were 9-2 on the road, tied with the Phoenix Suns for best in the league.

The Chicago Bulls (17-9) and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (17-10) are not far behind the Nets, though.

Meanwhile, we’re guessing seats at Pistons games are easy to source, as Detroit brings up the rear in the East at 4-21. As Motown natives, we have no words . . .

7. NBA Western Conference

Stephen Curry is just nine 3-pointers away from tying Ray Allen’s all-time NBA record. It’s likely to happen in the next 2 games. As of this posting, Curry’s Golden State Warriors are tied with the Phoenix Suns atop the Western Conference at 21-4.

Meanwhile, the LA Lakers (14-13) continue to struggle. It’s increasingly looking like the once “Iron Man” of the NBA, LeBron James, is showing his age with injuries and time off. And the conventional wisdom is that the Lakers have no chance at the postseason if LeBron stays on the bench for multiple games.

The Houston Rockets (8-17) made it to a seven-game winning streak after a 114-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets (who were without Kevin Durant) Thursday night. For those who had not been paying attention (that would be us), the Houston Rockets had previously lost 15 straight games. According to CBS Sports, the Rockets are the only team in NBA history to have had both a 15-game losing streak AND a seven-game winning streak in the same season. Sadly, though, the winning streak has ended – the Rockets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

8. MLB Lockout

The work stoppage in Major League Baseball remains in place, with no real news emerging this week on when it might be resolved. So the off season trade process – also known as the “hot stove” – is on hold until the collective bargaining issues are resolved. But there’s a lot of chatter about where top free agents will land after negotiations conclude, including which teams are likely to go after Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman.

9. Cinderella story in College hoops

It took the Purdue Boilermakers over 70 years to reach the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll. It took them one game to lose it. Rutgers took down the top-ranked Boilermakers, 70-68, in an early candidate for “College Hoops Game of the Year.”

After Purdue’s Trevion Williams gave his team a 68-67 lead with 3.4 seconds left, Rutgers forward Ron Harper Jr. hit a running three-point buzzer beater from just past half court to give the Scarlet Knights their first win over an AP No. 1 team in program history.

10. Demaryius Thomas passes away

Late on Thursday night, former Denver Broncos star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was found dead in his home in Georgia. He was 33.

Demaryius Thomas. Photo Credit: USA Today.

Thomas made five Pro Bowls and was part of Denver’s Super Bowl 50-winning team. He ranks in the top three in franchise history in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The most common line in many of the testimonials to the player lost so young is: “as good of a player as Thomas was, he was an even better person.”

This Week in Sports Talk December 12, 2021

That’s our take on the news headlines today and the previews of the week ahead that you need to know to understand and join the talk about sports – including football, basketball and hockey. Stay safe and strong out there, dear reader. See you next week.

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