In this final edition of Screened Sports Stories of this year I'll do my best to prepare you for all the craziness ahead that should help you through the holidays and distract you from the families you love so much. Sometimes sports are the greatest gift you can get this time of year. So prepare yourself for lots of football!
The past week had some big games for teams both hoping to lock down playoff chances or fend off some wannabe playoff teams. Possibly the biggest test for the Atlanta Falcons, who many thought weren't good enough, were the New York Giants coming to visit. The Giants aren't only the defending champions but this hasn't been a perfect season but were eyeing a key playoff spot. The Giants went into Atlanta and only found misery and the Falcons forced several turnovers making elite quarterback Eli Manning look miserable out on the field. The Giants didn't even manage a single point putting their repeat championship hopes in question. Another big game was the Denver Broncos, led by Eli's brother Peyton, visiting the Baltimore Ravens who were hoping to end a losing streak and ensure their playoff hopes once and for all. The Broncos held the Ravens scoreless for the first half of the and that essentially ended their hopes of winning the game. A one time juggernaut has now spun into a three game losing streak.
The are only two more weeks for the regular football season and plenty for you to watch while your family tries to annoy you to the point of shouting. A few good games this week include playoff hopefuls like the Bengals visiting the struggling Steelers, the 49ers visiting the Seahawks, and two teams hoping to save a season in the Giants visiting the Ravens. The week after, the week of Christmas to New Years, you have the Ravens visiting the Bengals which may turn into a win or done kind of game for both teams. The Texans visit the Colts for an in division game which could have a profound impact on playoff positioning and home-field advantage. And finally you have the Cowboys and the Redskins, both teams making moves towards the playoffs, hoping this rivalry game stirs something among their players and they can make the last move to keep their seasons going.
As professional football grinds towards a clearer playoff picture, collegiate football gears up for its postseason fun and the holidays, especially New Years, is when it really heats up. You have plenty of bowl games between now and the national championship but I'll try to highlight the bigger match-ups that you should really ignore loved ones for. First up is the second ranked team in a bowl game on Dec. 22nd as #19 Boise State goes against Washington in the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas. Then on Dec. 27th you get a day of nothing but bowls including the late night bowl of Baylor going against #17 UCLA in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl. Two days later on Dec. 29th you have #23 Texas playing #13 Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl, and then the next day is #8 LSU fighting #14 Clemson. New Years Day is filled with bowl games, enough so that it might even be hard to miss one like #7 Georgia vs. #16 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl or #15 Northern Illinois versus #12 Florida State in the Discover Orange Bowl. After that every bowl game is against some great teams and should make for some interesting match-ups. Maybe I'll even be back by then to highlight them!