🏒 Blades of Glory

NHL is back, NBA stars and is Russell Wilson out in Denver?

It’s Thursday! Hockey is back on TV after a holiday hiatus, some of NBA’s brightest stars took the court last night and College Football bowling season continues.

WTF Stat: The combined average TV audience for the three Christmas Day NFL games was 85.5M, while the combined audience for all five of the NBA Christmas games was just 14.1M. The NFL will make $111B in TV rights deals from ESPN, CBS, Fox, NBC and Amazon through 2033. The entire projected GDP of Bulgaria in 2023 is $108B - thanks to our friends over at Front Office Sports for the assist here… NFL is KING in America

Written By: Danny Healey

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🏈 Denver Broncos are benching QB Russell Wilson ahead of their Week 17 matchup vs. Chargers and will be starting Jarrett Stidham - it has been reported the Broncos will be cutting Wilson this offseason saving millions in cap space

🏈 Julius Peppers and Antonio Gates highlight the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2024 class - this is Gates and Peppers both first year of eligibility

🏀 Nuggets Aaron Gordon was brutally bitten by a family dog needing 21 stitches in his hand and face - will remain away from the team for the time being but is in “good condition”

🏀 NBA has approved Mark Cuban’s majority sale of the Dallas Mavericks that is valued at $3.5B - nice payout for the loyal Blitz reader who bought his stake in the franchise in 2000 for $285M… well done, Cubes!

Photo: Sidney Crosby | Source: USA Today

NHL - Top Games

  • Pittsburgh Penguins 7, New York Islanders 0: Kris Letang dished out six helpers in this game, while tying an NHL record five assists in one period to grab a road win against a good Islanders squad

  • Boston Bruins 4, Buffalo Sabres 1: The B’s were on a shocking four-game losing streak prior to the Christmas break, but they got back on track in Buffalo with Charlie Coyle scoring twice - Bruins ML was our Prime Lock of the Day in yesterday’s letter. Upgrade here to unlock those daily picks at the bottom of our newsletter

  • New York Rangers 5, Washington Capitals 1: New York stays hot winning five of their last six with K’Andre Miller scoring three points

  • New Jersey Devils 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3: With the Devils down 3-2 late in the 3rd, Luke Hughes scored off an assist from his older brother Jack to send the game to OT where Timo Meier netted the game-winner - if Columbus ever has a lead in the 3rd period, live bet against them because they will blow it every single time

See the full NHL scoreboard here and the current standings here.

NBA - Top Games

  • Oklahoma City Thunder 129, New York Knicks 120: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (36 PTS, 8 AST, 7 REB) refuses to cool down and his teammate Jalen Williams (36 PTS) matched him in points as the Thunder low key hold the No. 2 seed in the West - lots of regular season left but this young team is ballin’

  • Pheonix Suns 129, Houston Rockets 113: Kevin Durant (27 PTS, 16 AST, 10 REB) had a triple-double and career high in assists snapping a three-game losing streak for the Suns - Pheonix is just 15-15 this year

  • Cleveland Cavaliers 113, Dallas Mavericks 110: A 39-point effort from Luka Doncic wasn’t enough as Jarrett Allen (24 PTS, 23 REB, 6 AST) had a big night on the boards including nine offensive rebounds - can’t leave out Blitzer Georges Niang knocking down four three-balls in the W

  • Philadelphia 76ers 112, Orlando Magic 92: Sixers continue to operate without league MVP Joel Embiid but Tyrese Maxey (23 PTS), Tobias Harris (22 PTS) and De’Anthony Melton (22 PTS) picked up the slack - Magic have lost five of their last seven games… frauds?

See the full NBA scoreboard here and the current standings here.

College Football - Top Bowl Games

  • Military Bowl | Virginia Tech 41, Tulane 20: On a rainy day, the Hokies dominated on the ground rushing for 362 yards with two RBs over 135 yards and only throwing for 91 yards - was just a seven-point game in at halftime

  • Duke's Mayo Bowl | West Virginia 30, North Carolina 10: On the first play of the game, WR Traylon Ray went 75 yards to the house and the Mountaineers never looked back, they also returned a punt for a TD - QB Drake Maye sat as he recently declared for the Draft and is projected to go No. 2 overall

  • DirecTV Holiday Bowl | USC 42, #15 Louisville 28: Sophomore QB Miller Moss (371 YDS, 6 TDs, 1 INT) showed the Trojans may be in good hands next season without Caleb Williams or needing to go to the transfer portal tying a Pac-12 record for most TD passes ever in a bowl game - Williams is the No. 1 overall projected player in the 2024 Draft and sat this game

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Which NBA player currently leads the league in points per game?

A. Luka Doncic

B. Kevin Durant

C. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

D. Joel Embiid

Photo: Sorry man, they didn’t… | Source: Pride of Detroit

On December 28, 2008, the Detroit Lions were on the wrong side of history going winless on the season after a 31-21 loss to the divisional rival Green Bay Packers. They became the first team in NFL history to go a full season without a win in the 16-game schedule. - they chose QB Matthew Stafford with their #1 overall pick in 2009 and things started to turnaround!

NFL

  • New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns 8:15pm ET, Amazon Prime

College Football Bowl Games

  • Wasabi Fenway Bowl (Fenway Park) | SMU vs. Boston College 11:00am ET, ESPN

  • Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium) | Rutgers vs. Miami 2:15pm ET, ESPN

  • Pop-Tarts Bowl | NC State vs. Kansas State 5:45pm ET, ESPN

  • Valero Alamo Bowl | Arizona vs. Oklahoma 9:15pm ET, ESPN

NBA

  • Detroit Pistons @ Boston Celtics 7:30pm ET, NBA TV

  • Miami Heat @ Golden State Warriors 10:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • Full Schedule

NHL

  • Montreal Canadiens @ Carolina Hurricanes 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Los Angeles Kings @ Vegas Golden Knights 10:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Full Schedule

College Basketball

  • NCAAM: USC @ Oregon 9:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • Men’s: Full Schedule

  • NCAAW: Coppin State @ Duke 7:00pm ET, ACC Network

  • Women’s: Full Schedule

Grab $20 off tickets to your favorite games, concerts and events using code TORCH20 at Vivid Seats - Promo is for first-time buyers and orders over $200!

Trivia Time Answer

D. Joel Embiid. Even without playing the last few games, Embiid looks like he could be a back-to-back MVP carrying the load for a James Harden-less Sixers team scoring 35 PPG at the Center position. Luka is just trailing him at 33.5 PPG.

Prime Lock of the Day

NFL Thursday Night Football

Subscribe to Blitz Prime to unlock this betting slip. For those already signed up, enjoy the winner!

  • New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns: Amari Cooper under 57.5 REC yards

Tonight marks a four-day stretch of an incredible football schedule including NFL Week 17 with lots of playoff implications on the line capped off by the College Football Playoffs Monday night. Yay for football fans. See you tomorrow for a preview of it all!