This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly report on the big sports news headlines and major events, plus a preview of what’s up next. For January 15, 2023, here are the weekly top 10 sports news headlines to know – the big stories and major events in sports news this week in the NFL, NBA and more.
weekly top 10 big sports news headlines and major events: January 15, 2023
For many around the world, the biggest headline in the world of sports continues to be the miraculous recovery of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Hamlin was discharged from a Buffalo hospital just over a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a game on January 2 after a seemingly routine tackle. The 24-year old’s shocking injury riveted America, and the outpouring of prayers and well-wishing was one of those rare moments when the entire country actually seemed to agree on something.
His recovery really does feel like a miracle. After having to be revived twice after his heart stopped beating, Hamlin is already out of the hospital. And yesterday, he visited the Bills training facility. Incredible.
In addition to the joyful outcome for Hamlin and his family, teammates and fans, the other big happening right now is the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend (WCW). LOTS of good football this weekend. NFL games on Saturday!!! Life is good.
1. NFL week 18 highlights.
Courtesy of CBS Sports and our Sports Desk, here are the highlights of Week 18 of the NFL season, in case you missed any of it.
- With Damar Hamlin watching from a hospital in Ohio, his Buffalo Bills teammate Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff from the New England Patriots 96 yards for a touchdown. It was a made-for-Hollywood moment that was just one more chapter in a true Cinderella story for the Bills and their fans. Buffalo won 35-23 and advanced to the playoffs.
- Miami clinched a wild card slot when the Dolphins beat the New York Jets, 11-6, in a defensive war of attrition. Both teams entered the game on five-game losing streaks. Miami’s win got the franchise into the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
- Miami’s win ended the Pittsburg Steelers’ postseason hopes. But let the record show that Pittsburgh beat the Cleveland Browns, 28-14, in their last game of the season.
- In a shocking upset, the Dallas Cowboys scored a meager six points in an embarrassing blowout loss to the Washington Commanders. Yep, Dallas was defeated by a team that had already been eliminated from the playoffs. A team whose starting quarterback was a fifth-round pick starting for the first time. What???
- The Seattle Seahawks overcame an uncharacteristically weak performance from quarterback Geno Smith to beat the LA Rams 19-16 in an overtime thriller. That win alone wouldn’t suffice to get them into the Wild Card, though. The Seahawks still needed the Detroit Lions to beat the Green Bay Packers to snag the NFC’s last Wild Card spot.
- To the surprise and delight of many, Detroit knocked off Green Bay, 20-16. It was sweet revenge for Lions fans, who were still fuming over Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ comment after Detroit beat Green Bay 15-9 in a dramatic upset two months ago. Rodgers declared after that game that “We can’t be losing like that against that team.” Apparently, they can. The sports press reports that this game may have been Aaron Rodger’s last. But there’ll be plenty of time to discuss that later.
- File this one in your “can’t win for losing” folder. The Houston Texans upset the Indianapolis Colts with a late touchdown. But winning the game means that they have lost the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears. Hey, take the W, Houston. At least we know they didn’t deliberately tank.
2. NFL Wild Card Weekend – Saturday Game Results
This weekend and next weekend are considered the best of the year for football fans – even better than Super Bowl weekend. The Wild Card and the divisional rounds feature multiple games and high stakes. They’re almost always suspenseful and entertaining – and there are 6 games, not just one!
At the start of this weekend, 14 teams were potential winners of Super Bowl LVII. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles earned the No. 1 seeds in the AFC and NFC, respectively, so they’re on a bye week. Everyone else has to take the field. BTW, Eagle fans, take note: reports are that Jalen Hurt has resumed throwing, and should be ready to play next weekend.
The big question heading into Wild Card Weekend was whether the favorites will win – as expected – or whether it may be “the day of the underdog,” as our Sports Desk so poetically puts it. Interestingly, every Wild Card matchup will be a rematch from the regular season.
The schedule for the weekend was two games yesterday, three more today and one on Monday night. So, don’t expect to see or hear much from your friends and family members who love football until Tuesday morning. Here’s what happened yesterday.
seattle seahawks at san francisco 49ers: 49ers win 41-23.
While there were hopes that perhaps the underdog No. 7 Seahawks could beat the No. 2 49ers at home, that was always unlikely. San Francisco’s rookie quarterback Brock Purdy made his first career playoff start, and led his team to a second-half rally after being behind at halftime. Purdy had 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Deebo Samuel also turned in a stellar performance, making several vital plays – including a 74-yard touchdown to clinch the win.
los angeles chargers at jacksonville jaguars: jags win 31-30.
Heading into this game, the Jags were the underdogs – but some people (looking at you, Sports Desk) flagged this as a potential upset. Why? In part, because the Chargers played all their starters last week, even though they had already clinched their Wild Card slot. In that game, both Joey Bosa and Mike Williams were injured, so the Chargers took the field yesterday without two of their best players.
Adding to the significance of the game? The opposing quarterbacks, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence, are two of the NFL’s most promising young stars. And this was the first playoff appearance for both of them.
In the end, it was a nail-biter, with a stellar demonstration of true grit. Down by 27 points at halftime, the Jags clawed their way back for the win. Trevor Lawrence started off shaky, throwing 4 interceptions in the first half. But he shook that off and threw 4 touchdowns in the second half. Jacksonville won it with a field goal. Talk about resilience. Wow.
3. NFL Wild Card Weekend games still to come
miami dolphins at buffalo bills
In the AFC, the Buffalo Bills are playing the Miami Dolphins, who are without their star quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. He’s out with a concussion – the young player and has suffered at least three notable head injuries this season. It seems like a tough putt for the Dolphins to win without him. Meanwhile, our Sports Desk notes that the Bills are one of the best teams in the league, and are even favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. Add to that the incredible momentum and goodwill they have behind them with the recovery of Damar Hamlin, and it feels like the Bills have a date with destiny.
baltimore ravens at cincinnati bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are also playing a team that’s missing its starting quarterback. The Baltimore Ravens are taking the filed without Lamar Jackson, who suffered a knee injury. It’s gonna be tough for them to win without him.
new york giants at minnesota vikings
Here in Gotham, the pressing question of the day is: Can the underdog New York Giants actually beat the Minnesota Vikings? Our Sports Desk notes that the Vikings are probably the most inconsistent/miraculous team in all of the NFL this year. They’ve given up more points than they have scored – and yet, here they are in the playoffs. New Yorkers have been instructed to wear Giants blue this weekend. Let’s hope that works!
dallas cowboys at tampa bay buccaneers
In the final NFC Wild Card game, the Vegas betting line rates Tampa Bay as the underdog to Dallas. Even though the Buccaneers are playing at home.
Our Sports Desk is always Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to defending the Bucs and Tom Brady, and they would like for you to know the following:
- Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady is 7-0 over the Cowboys over the course of his long NFL career. Dallas is one of the teams he has never lost to.
- Since 2019, Tom Brady is 4-0 in playoff games when his team is the underdog.
- The Cowboys have won just one playoff game in the last 20 years.
- The Cowboys are 1-4 on natural grass this year – and they’ll be playing in Tampa Bay on natural grass.
- The Bucs are wearing white uniforms, forcing the Cowboys to wear their navy blue uniforms. There is a well-known curse for the Cowboys when they play in blue.
- The last time the Cowboys won a road playoff game was in 1993 – that would be 30 years ago. Only 10 players on the current team had been born by then.
- Finally, Tom Brady has 35 wins in the playoffs. All of the other NFL quarterbacks combined have only 35 starts in playoff games (and most of those were by Patrick Mahomes).
Hmmm . . . We’re not sure, but it really seems like all the signs are pointing to a Bucs upset. We’ll see.
4. Other NFL News
Having lost out on a spot in the Wild Card, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson says he will aggressively court an experienced quarterback this off-season. The likely candidates are the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo or former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr was benched for the last two games of the season in Las Vegas, and departed by sending a thank you note to Raider Nation. The Raiders are the only team Carr has ever played for.
In other player news, Roquan Smith has signed a five-year, $100-million extension with the Baltimore Ravens that makes him the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history.
The day after the regular season ends is usually a day when some coaches get fired. This year was no exception.
Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith was fired just hours after his team beat the Indianapolis Colts in their final game of the season. The win took Houston to 3-13-1, just a whisker above the Chicago Bears, who ended the season 3-14. As noted above, that was just enough for the Texans to lose the first draft pick. But not enough to save Smith’s job.
The following day, the Arizona Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury lost his job as head coach after four seasons.GM Steve Keim is also leaving the team, “for personal health reasons.”
It’s not all bad news, by the way. For instance, Bill Belichick confirmed he has no plans to leave New England and plans to return for his 24th season in 2023. And Sean McVay has re-upped as head coach with the LA Rams.
5. NFL All-Pro First Team Honors
In case your team’s season is already done, or in case you don’t even follow sports but have a loved one who does, here are some feel-good facts that might even include a favorite player whose season is otherwise over. The NFL’s All-Pro 1st team honors went to the following players:
- Quarterback — Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
- Running Back — Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas
- Tight End — Travis Kelce, Kansas City
- Wide Receivers — Justin Jefferson, Minnesota; Tyreek Hill, Miami; Davante Adams, Las Vegas
- Left Tackle — Trent Williams, San Francisco
- Right Tackle — Lane Johnson, Philadelphia
- Left Guard — Joel Bitonio, Cleveland
- Right Guard — Zack Martin, Dallas
- Center — Jason Kelce, Philadelphia
- Edge Rushers — Nick Bosa, San Francisco; Micah Parsons, Dallas
- Interior Linemen — Chris Jones, Kansas City; Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
- Linebackers — Fred Warner, San Francisco; Roquan Smith, Baltimore; Matt Milano, Buffalo
- Cornerbacks — Sauce Gardner, New York Jets; Patrick Surtain II, Denver
- Safeties — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh; Talanoa Hufanga, San Francisco
- Placekicker — Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas
- Punter — Tommy Townsend, Kansas City
- Kick Returner — Keisean Nixon, Green Bay
- Punt Returner — Marcus Jones, New England
- Special Teamer — Jeremy Reaves, Washington
- Long Snapper — Andrew DePaola, Minnesota
6. King James is (still) displeased
The NBA standings as of this posting have the Boston Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference, with the Brooklyn Nets 3.5 games back. In the West, the Denver Nuggets and the Memphis Grizzlies are tied for first, 3.5 ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans.
And the LA Lakers? Well, they’re in 13th place, with a 19-23 record. Not surprisingly, one of their star players is extremely unhappy about this.
In an interview with The Athletic following a 136-134 win over the Sacramento Kings, the LA Lakers’ LeBron James lambasted his team’s management for their inaction on the trade front. Saying in part: “Y’all know what the f— should be happening. I don’t need to talk.”
Those looking for a translation should know that he’s referring to the team’s unwillingness to give up future draft picks to get a player or two who can get the Lakers into the playoffs this season. One could argue that the Lakers are more than one player short of a national championship-winning team. And that James’ previous insistence on trading for Russell Westbrook left the franchise with very little room for further trades.
Watch this space – or just look to the sky, as the sparks will surely fly high enough for you to see them.
7. The Nets’ KD is out for a month
In a heart-breaking turn for Nets fans, the team’s bedrock player is out with an injury. Just when it looked like the Brooklyn Nets had turned a new page on all the drama from earlier in the season, they’ve been hit with more bad news. After Steve Nash’s departure and Kyrie Irving’s suspension, Jacque Vaughn was named head coach. His appointment marked the moment when the team caught fire – largely thanks to the extraordinary performance of Kevin Durant.
But now KD will be out for a month with a sprained MCL in his right knee, suffered during a game a week ago against the Miami Heat. As noted above, the Nets are 3.5 back of the Boston Celtics. He cannot return quickly enough.
8. Georgia wins College football playoffs national championship
Heading into the CFP championship game, the matchup was characterized by many as “David vs. Goliath.” Georgia entered the game as a 13-point favorite over TCU. That’s a large spread. Kind of made people want to bet on TCU.
But in the end, that wide spread was still not large enough. Georgia did a historical beatdown on TCU on Monday night, winning the CFP championship with a 65-7 final score. Sixty five. To seven. There’s really nothing much more to say. Bulldog see Horned Frog. Bulldog eat Horned Frog. Next!
With their second straight national title, the Georgia Bulldogs become the first team to repeat since Alabama in 2011-12. Now people are starting to use the “D” word – as in dynasty . . .
9. Carlos Correa is staying in Minnesota
After a lot of dramatic twists and turns, MLB free agent shortstop Carlos Correa is not joining the New York Mets after all. Nope, not the San Francisco Giants either. He’ll be back with the Minnesota Twins after signing a six-year, $200-million deal.
In a bizarre series of events, first it was reported that Correa had inked a 13-year, $350-million deal with the Giants. That would have been the largest deal ever for a shortstop. The Mets countered days later with a 12-year, $315-million deal. But it turns out that both teams had issues with the results of Correa’s physical. He injured his right lower leg and ankle as an Astros minor-leaguer in 2014.
Now Twins’ fans are wondering if they’ve managed to retain a superstar player – or if they’ll live to regret this. Keep in mind, at 28 years old, Correa was considered a top 5 free agent this season – and if he continues on his current path, he’s a likely Hall of Famer. It might all be just fine, Minnesota.
10. Australian Open
The 111th edition of the Australian Open – and the first Grand Slam of the year – commences today.
Novak Djokovic is in Australia and hoping to make history after last year’s deportation debacle. If he wins the Australian Open, he will match the 22 Grand Slam wins of Rafael Nadal. It won’t be easy, though. Djokovic suffered an injury scare on Wednesday and was forced to withdraw from a practice match against Daniil Medvedev. He said it was just a precaution. He’ll meet Spain’s Roberto Carballés Baena tomorrow.
Unfortunately for tennis fans, men’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz will miss the tournament due to a right leg injury suffered in training last week. He became the youngest No. 1 in men’s tennis history when he won his first grand slam title in New York last year.
Rafael Nadal will be trying to defend last year’s title; in the opening round he will face British up-and-comer Jack Draper.
Meanwhile, on the women’s side Iga Światek is hoping to add an Australian Open title to her impressive resumé, which includes two French Open titles and a US Open win. Beloved teenage player Coco Gauff will be trying to advance her own record – she made it to a Grand Slam final for the first time last year. Gauff lost to Światek in the final of the 2022 French Open.
Finally, Naomi Osaka had already announced her withdrawal from this year’s Australian Open. This week she announced why: she’s pregnant with her first child.
Weekly Top sports news headlines and major events to know: January 15, 2023
That’s our take on the big sports news headlines and major events, and a preview of the week ahead, including what to know about football, basketball and more. Have a great week, dear reader. See you next Sunday.