🏈 Zappe Hour

Pats-Steelers TNF, Week 14 preview, ITS semifinals, Army-Navy, and more...

It’s FRIDAY! Some were calling it the game of the season; others were simply calling it The Game. Last night’s highly-anticipated showdown between two offensive juggernauts somehow exceeded expectations thanks to an exhilarating Zappe Hour. That’s actually all the time New England’s gunslinger needed to beat the Steelers: an hour. (In a brilliant display of schematics, Bill Belichick elected not to score in the second half to avoid any unnecessary time stoppages. Most people wouldn’t get it.) We’ll recap Thursday Night Football and then preview the rest of Week 14 around the NFL. Plus, the NBA In-Season Tournament Final is set out in Las Vegas, more top dogs in the Premier League were taken down, and Jon Rahm is really rich — but at what cost? Finally, the rest of college football patiently awaits for the greatest tradition in the sport: Army vs. Navy. This one’s for you, America.

WTF Stat: Last night, the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to be over .500 and lose consecutive games against teams that were each at least eight games under .500 - is that bad?

Do it for the troops.

⛳️ Jon Rahm announced yesterday that he is leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf - the two-time major champion will reportedly receive over $300M on a multiyear deal with the Saudi-backed circuit

🏈 Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence returned to practice yesterday and has not been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Browns despite suffering a high-ankle sprain in Monday night’s loss to the Bengals - Lawrence is currently listed as questionable

🏈 TNF + Week 14 Preview

Photo: Zappe Hour | Source: USA Today

NFL - Thursday Night Football

  • New England Patriots (3-10) 21, Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) 18: It actually wasn’t that bad! In a matchup between two abysmal offenses who were each starting a backup quarterback, Bailey Zappe (19/28, 240 YDS, 3 TDs, 1 INT) was miraculously on pace to double his five career touchdown passes with three in the first half, giving the Patriots a 21-10 lead at the break. And although Mitch Trubisky (22/35, 220 YDS, 2 TDs, 1 INT) capitalized on a Steelers’ blocked punt with a one-yard sneak to cut Pittsburgh’s deficit to three early in the 4th quarter, New England’s defense held strong the rest of the way to secure a road W, snapping the Pats’ five-game skid

  • Quick Hits: Hunter Henry (3 REC, 40 YDS, 2 TDs) caught two of Zappe’s touchdown passes. Ezekiel Elliot (22 REC, 7 REC, 132 TOT. YDS, 1 TD) was eating with Rhaomdre Stevenson sidelined due to injury. And it’s the Steelers’ third loss in four games.

See the full box score here.

Week 14 - Top Games

  • Buffalo Bills (6-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) 4:25pm ET, CBS: Back in May, the schedule makers presumably thought they were crafting up a playoff preview between two AFC powerhouses. Instead, the Bills will limp into Arrowhead this Sunday with their season on life support. After a crushing overtime loss in Philly, Buffalo will be coming off a much-needed bye, giving Josh Allen time to rest a lingering shoulder injury. The Chiefs ousted the Bills in the 2020 and 2021 playoffs but lost the last two regular season matchups, which were both in Kansas City. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are 18-3 when coming off a loss, but Kansas City's defense is banged up, so Allen should be able to do some damage with his arm and fresh legs. The Chiefs also have 12 turnovers since Week 6, tied for the eighth in the league, while the Bills lead the NFL with 79 points off turnovers, including 31 points in their last three games. In a matchup that's historically close and Buffalo's playoff hopes on the line, we're taking the points. Pick: BUF +1.5

  • Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (9-3) 8:20pm ET, NBC: A crucial grudge match that will help decide the NFC East. Philly has gone 3-1 amid a brutal five-game stretch, beating the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Bills before getting trounced by the Niners last Sunday. Now, they'll meet Dallas again — this time, at Jerry World, where the Boys haven't lost all season. A win for the Eagles will all but secure a division title, but they're not favored for a reason: The Cowboys arguably outplayed them in Philadelphia, and Dak Prescott has been playing at an MVP level. He picked apart Philly's secondary in early November and should have time to do it again on Sunday. Since Week 8, Philly ranks 28th in sack rate (4.4%) and is tied for 27th with 10 total sacks. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts has been hampered by a nagging knee injury, and Dallas is boasting a 90.2% pressure rate, trailing only San Francisco. With that said, it's just too many points to lay against a good team. Pick: PHI +3.5

The Rest of Sunday’s Slate

  • Carolina Panthers (1-11) @ New Orleans Saints (5-7) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • Detroit Lions (9-3) @ Chicago Bears (4-8) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • Houston Texans (7-5) @ New York Jets (5-8) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • Indianapolis Colts (7-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (6-6) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) @ Cleveland Browns (7-5) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • Los Angeles Rams (6-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-3) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) @ Atlanta Falcons (6-6) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • Minnesota Vikings (6-6) @ Las Vegas Raiders (5-7) 4:05pm ET, FOX

  • Seattle Seahawks (6-6) @ San Francisco 49ers (9-3) 4:05pm ET, FOX

  • Denver Broncos (6-6) @ Los Angeles Chargers (5-7) 4:25pm ET, CBS

Monday Night Football

  • Tennessee Titans (4-8) @ Miami Dolphins (9-3) 8:15pm ET, ESPN

  • Green Bay Packers (6-6) @ New York Giants (4-8) 8:15pm ET, ABC

  • Byes: Arizona Cardinals (3-10), Washington Commanders (4-9)

See the full NFL standings here. 2023 Pick Record: 20-12-1.

Photo: Halibuckets | Source: USA Today

NBA In-Season Tournament - Semifinals

  • East | Indiana Pacers 128, Milwaukee Bucks 119: I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Tyrese Haliburton (27 PTS, 7 REB, 15 AST, 0 TO) is a superstar. Giannis Antetokounmpo (37 PTS, 13-19 FG, 10 REB) and Damian Lillard (24 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST) had the Bucks up three entering the 4th quarter, but the Pacers went on a 21-13 run to finish the game in which Haliburton dropped seven straight points capped by a dagger stepback three in the final minute to seal a win for Indiana - Haliburton hit Lillard’s patented “Dame Time” celebration after the dagger, and Myles Turner (26 PTS, 10 REB) had a big double-double

  • West | Los Angeles Lakers 133, New Orleans Pelicans 89: It was all Lakers all night as LeBron James (30 PTS, 5 REB, 8 AST) had 21 points at the half, Anthony Davis (16 PTS, 15 REB, 5 AST) dominated the glass, and Los Angeles outscored New Orleans 43-17 in the 3rd quarter to rout Zion Williamson (13 PTS, 3 AST) and company in Vegas, setting up a date with the Pacers in the final on Saturday for the inaugural NBA Cup - unlike the other tournament games, the final won’t count toward the regular-season standings, and every player on the winning team will earn $500,000

See the full box scores here.

NBA In-Season Tournament - Final

  • Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers 8:30pm ET, ABC

See the full ITS bracket here, and the current regular-season standings here.

NHL - All Games

  • San Jose Sharks 6, Detroit Red Wings 5 (OT): Michael Rasmussen (2 G) and the Red Wings broke a scoreless game with four straight goals in the 2nd period, but Nico Sturm (2 G) and the Sharks finished the period with a four-goal run of their own, and after trading scores in the 3rd, Mikael Granlund (1 G, 2 A) said goodnight with a game-winner 37 seconds into overtime, giving the Sharks their fifth win in seven games - Patrick Kane (3 S, 16:33 TOI) was making his Red Wings debut

  • Buffalo Sabres 3, Boston Bruins 1: The Sabres got off a four-game schneid with a win in Bean Town over Brad Marchand (1 G) and the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins thanks to goals from JJ Peterka (1 G), Tage Thomspon (1 G), and Victor Oloffson (1 G), while Devon Levi (29 SV) stood tall between the pipes - the B’s had won four straight heading into yesterday

  • Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Ottawa Senators 3: Joseph Woll (31 SV, 2 A) was standing on his head before leaving the game midway through the 3rd period with a lower-body injury, but Toronto still got the dub behind William Nylander’s (1 G) lead-extending gino with 6:57 remaining, allowing the Leafs to hang on versus Claude Giroux (1 G) and the Sens in Ottawa - Woll had to be helped off the ice after stopping a shot from Rourke Chartier

  • Philadelphia Flyers 4, Arizona Coyotes 1: Travis Konecny (2 G) scored his second goal of the night shorthanded to put Philadelphia up 3-1 in the 2nd period, which was more than enough insurance for Carter Hart (25 SV) to close out Cam York (1 G, 1 A) and the ‘Yotes in Arizona, ending their winning streak at five games

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

English Premier League - Top Matches

  • West Ham United 2, Tottenham Hotspur 1: The Spurs slump grew more sour yesterday in London as Cristian Romero (11’) marked his return from suspension to give them an early advantage but their inability to capitalize on other first-half opportunities would haunt them as Jarrod Bowen (52’) and James Ward-Prowse (74’) turned the Derby on its head, giving West Ham an upset victory at home - once atop the table, Tottenham has gone 0-1-4 in their last five Premiership outings

  • Everton 3, Newcastle United 0: Newcastle’s nightmare also continues as they’ve now lost as many games this season (five) as they did in last year’s entire campaign, and yesterday Dwight McNeil (79') drew first blood after nearly 80 minutes of scoreless play before Abdoulaye Doucouré (86') and Beto (90'+6') poured it on for the Merseysiders, who climbed out the relegation zone with the surprising victory - Newcastle currently has 12 players sidelined with injuries

See the full scoreboard here and the current EPL table here.

College Basketball - Top Games

  • NCAAW | #23 Gonzaga 78, California 70 (OT): The Zags were in trouble out in Berkely, but Kayleigh Truong’s (14 PTS, 6 AST) jumper tied it with 31 seconds left in regulation, and they eventually took control in overtime to edge out Marta Suarez (19 PTS, 10 REB) and Cal

  • NCAAW | #2 UCLA 111, Cal State Northridge 48: In a classic instate rivalry, John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success guided the Bruins to a somewhat lopsided victory in which former High School Gatorade Player of the Year Kiki Rice (14 PTS, 10 REB, 10 AST, 7 STL) was just three steals away from a rare quadruple-double

  • NCAAM | Iowa State 90, Iowa 65: One day after the Lady Cyclones narrowly lost to the fourth-ranked Lady Hawkeyes, their men’s team avenged the heartbreaker by rocking their instate enemies behind UNLV transfer Keshon Gilbert’s (25 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB) coming out party in Ames - the Hawkeyes are now 5-4, while Iowa State is 7-2

See the full men’s scoreboard here and the full women’s scoreboard here.

🏈 America’s Game.

Photo: America | Source: America

College Football - America’s Game

Army (5-6) vs. Navy (5-6) Saturday, 3:00pm ET, CBS: The uniforms have dropped, the regular-season schedule has cleared, and the depressingly low points total has been set for one of college football's greatest traditions: Army vs. Navy. The 124-year series will march on new soil Saturday when the Black Knights and Midshipmen meet at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, marking the first time the game will be played in New England. Besides the right to sing second, the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is also on the line. Awarded each season to the winner of the annual series between the service academies, Army can claim the hardware with a win, while a victory for Navy will mark a three-way tie. (In that scenario, Air Force would retain the trophy because they won it last season.) You don't need to be named Oppenheimer to figure out the game plan for both teams: Run the ball and stop the run. Whoever does so more effectively will win. Both teams rank among the top 15 rushing offenses in the land, averaging over 200 yards on the ground per game. But Navy has a noticeably better run defense, conceding just 121.9 yards per game compared to Army's 180.5. It would be unpatriotic to not point out that it would be unpatriotic to not take the under (27.5), which hit 16 straight times before the streak was snapped last season in a 20-17 shootout favoring the Black Knights. In terms of a winner, you always have to ride the dog in this one. Anchors Away! Pick: NAVY +2.5

2023 Pick Record: 25-26-2 - getting back to .500 just like the Midshipmen!

In partnership with Friday Beers

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LAFC and the Columbus Crew will square off in the MLS Cup Final on Saturday. Who won the Cup last season?

A. Houston Dynamo FC

B. Philadelphia Union

C. LAFC

D. Atlanta United FC

Photo: 1940 NFL Championship (Griffith Stadium) | Source: NFL

On December 8, 1940, the most one-sided victory in NFL history occurred. In the eighth-ever NFL Championship game, the Chicago Bears absolutely walloped the Washington Redskins 73-0. Three weeks prior, Washington had beaten Chicago 7–3 in the regular season. After the game, Redskins owner George Preston Marshall told reporters that the Bears were crybabies and quitters when the going got tough. Before the rematch, Bears HC George Halas fired up his team by showing them newspapers with the quote. Apparently, the bulletin board material worked because this one wasn't even close, folks. Chicago recorded 501 total yards, 382 rushing yards, and had eight interceptions, three of which they returned for touchdowns - wow, a Washington owner making controversial comments? How unusual!

Friday

  • NBA: New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics 7:30pm ET, NBA TV

  • NBA: Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns 9:00pm ET, Local

  • NBA: Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah Jazz 10:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Florida Panthers 7:00pm ET, NHL Net

  • NHL: St. Louis Blues @ Columbus Blue Jackets 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • NHL: Minnesota Wild @ Edmonton Oilers 9:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

Saturday

  • CFB: Army vs. Navy 3:00pm ET, CBS

  • EPL: Arsenal @ Aston Villa 12:30pm ET, NBC

  • NBA (ITS Final): Indiana Pacers @ [ ] 8:30pm ET, ABC

  • NCAAM: #20 Illinois @ #17 Tennessee 12:00pm ET, CBS

  • NCAAM: Alabama @ #4 Purdue 1:30pm ET, FOX

  • NCAAM: #23 Wisconsin @ #1 Arizona 3:15pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAW: #13 Kansas State @ Missouri 6:00pm ET, SECN

  • NHL: Arizona Coyotes @ Boston Bruins 1:00pm ET, NHL Net

  • NHL: Nashville Predators @ Toronto Maple Leafs 7:00pm ET, NHL Net

  • MLS Cup Final: LAFC @ Columbus Crew 4:00pm ET, FOX

Sunday

  • NFL: Full Schedule

  • EPL: Newcastle United @ Tottenham Hotspur 11:30am, USA Network

  • NCAAM: Colorado @ #15 Miami 2:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAM: Memphis @ #21 Texas A&M 4:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAW: #2 UCLA @ #20 Florida State 12:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAW: #11 Utah @ #1 South Carolina 2:30pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAW: #24 North Carolina @ #17 UConn 5:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NHL: Florida Panthers @ Columbus Blue Jackets 1:00pm ET, NHL Net

  • NHL: New Jersey Devils @ Edmonton Oilers 4:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

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

C. LAFC. Founded in 2014, Los Angeles FC won their first MLS Cup last year by defeating the Philadelphia Union in penalties 3-0 after a 3-3 draw in regulation. They will look to become the first back-to-back champions since the LA Galaxy repeated in 2011-12. First contested in 1996, 19 of the 31 teams that have played in the league have appeared in an MLS Cup final, and 15 clubs have won it - the Galaxy have the most titles, with five.

"Lock" of the Day

In partnership with FanDuel

College Football

  • Army vs. Navy: Under 27.5 (-110) - AMERICA!

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Enjoy the weekend, and see ya Monday!