🏈 The Grandaddy of Them All!

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It’s a Holiday Friday! We have a very exciting Blitz today with one of the biggest weekends of the football on the calendar with New Year’s Six bowl games kicking off tonight all the way through the CFP Semifinals Monday night. NFL Week 17 has some big matchups with playoff implications, and we preview it all. Our Scoreboard highlights college football games that were played in baseball stadiums, a couple freshman QBs made their college debuts, the Pistons almost won a game again and topped off with some NHL action.

We’re taking NYE off Sunday night to celebrate all of the glorious football that is being played this weekend. I don’t think you’d be able to understand a single sentence we put together in Monday morning’s letter if we wrote on Sunday. So, in light of helping you become a smarter sports fan, we’ll see Tuesday morning for a hefty letter of football recaps.

WTF Stat: For the first time in 70 years, the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions have 10+ wins in the same season.

Written By: Danny Healey

This will be the final newsletter of 2023. We’re coming up on our fifth year of bringing you beautiful people an easy-to-read sports recap of what happened the day before, with a little bit of flavor to make you smile and start your day on a high note. Five years is wild to think about given it feels like just yesterday I started this thing with some buddies in my college where only our parents were reading. I know we’ve said this in the past, but I cannot emphasize how much you all mean to us over here at Morning Blitz.

The last year we’ve seen our biggest growth yet. The number of people that open this email on a daily basis continue to baffle me. Breaking news, it’s more than just our parents reading now! Social media has been a fun place to explore new content and we’ve seen some exponential growth over the last 12 months. If you don’t follow us on Instagram, you’re missing out on what I believe is the best account to follow on IG, in my complete unbiased opinion ;).

Thanks to our very, VERY talented Senior Writer Ian Dardani, our content quality is the best it’s ever been. This man is writing about the Jazz/Kings recap at 2am while you’re sound asleep. I am beyond confident we have the best sports newsletter product the world has to offer, in large part due to Ian’s efforts.

Making you smarter sports fans in a fun, light-hearted way is truly one the greatest jobs there is. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Thank you for your continued support through 2023. You make the daily grind so rewarding. Let’s go make 2024 even greater. Hit that share button below and get your friends signed up for this rocket ship. Buckle up Blitzers, we’re headed to planet Moon.

P.S. Blitz Interns - I deeply apologize for absolutely dominating our 2-QB, super-flex fantasy football league. Better luck next year!

🏈 Bills OLB Von Miller claimed the assault violations on his pregnant girlfriend are “100% false”

Wander Franco did not respond or show up to his summons in the Dominican Republic yesterday for his investigation on having inappropriate relations with minors - DR police still cannot locate him

🏀 Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have exercised their option to acquire a majority stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx - together they will own 80% of the two franchises

🏈 College Football Playoffs Preview

Photo: The Grandaddy of Them All | Source: WVTM

College Football Playoff Semifinals

Rose Bowl | #1 Michigan (13-0) vs. #4 Alabama (12-1) Monday, 5:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Two iconic programs. One national championship game berth on the line. And perhaps the sport's most historic venue playing host. This is what college football is all about, folks. It's The Grandaddy of Them All. If you think Florida State got snubbed, you're right. But Alabama is the better team, and Michigan's reaction to finding out they'd face the Tide instead of the Seminoles will tell you that. The Wolverines are coming off their third straight Big Ten championship after taking down their rival Buckeyes for a third consecutive year and rolling Iowa in the conference title game. Meanwhile, following an early loss to Texas in September, the Tide ran the table and snapped Georgia's 29-game win streak in the SEC title game to ultimately earn a spot in the playoff.

  • As per usual, Michigan's physicality in the trenches has been their staple. In the previous two seasons, the Maize and Blue led the Big Ten in rushing behind an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award. But this year, Michigan ranks sixth in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 162 yards per game, a decline of 77 per game from 2022, and standout right guard Zak Zinter broke his leg during the Ohio State game. If they can't run the ball, they're going to be in big trouble because beating the Tide through the air will be a challenge for QB JJ McCarthy and a rather mundane passing attack. Bama has two of the best cornerbacks in All-Americans Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold, and perhaps the best edge rusher in the land in Dallas Turner — all three players are projected first-rounders in the upcoming draft. On the other side, the Wolverines' defense has been outstanding, led by a fierce defensive tackle rotation. But they haven't faced a dual-threat QB like Jalen Milroe, who has the athleticism to neutralize their interior pass rush and extend plays with his legs, an additional threat that's given defenses fits in the second half of the season.

  • Michigan is a great football team, but this is a bad matchup for them across the board. Alabama has the size to match up with them upfront, the corners to load the box and sell out against the run, and Jalen Milroe is much more dynamic than any quarterback they've seen this year. Will the Tide roll to their third national championship game in four seasons?

Sugar Bowl | #2 Washington (13-0) vs. #3 Texas (12-1) Monday, 8:45pm ET, ESPN

  • If you like points, you're in for a good one Monday night because we should see a barrage of fireworks in New Orleans between these two. Despite beating Oregon in October, the Huskies were two-score underdogs against the Ducks in the Pac-12 title game. They beat them again, capping an unbeaten regular season with a conference championship. Still, they're underdogs against the Longhorns, who are loaded with talent and finally back under third-year HC Steve Sarkisian.

  • This is the best Texas team since Colt McCoy led the Horns to the 2010 National Championship against Alabama, but a rematch is far from guaranteed. QB Quinn Ewers and WR Xavier Worthy headline an explosive offense riddled with NFL talent, and Sarkisian has always been an offensive whiz, but the identity of this team is their dominant defensive tackles. The Longhorns are No. 4 in the country in run defense, allowing 80.9 yards per game, and nobody has seemed to figure them out on the ground. However, UT's weak link is the secondary, which will have its hands full against QB Michael Penix Jr (the Heisman Trophy runner-up) and star wideouts Rome Odunze Jr, Jalen McMillan, and Ja'Lynn Polk — all of whom will be playing on Sundays with Odunze as a sure-fire first-rounder this coming spring. Washington has one of the best offenses in the country, but UT's isn't too shabby either. In fact, they've been on fire lately, putting up 57 against Texas Tech in the regular season finale before hanging 49 on Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game that was over by halftime. Both passing attacks can strike quickly and often and will be facing vulnerable secondaries.

  • This has all the makings of a classic shootout, which is why we're leaning toward the Huskies. Yes, Texas beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa early in the season, but that wasn't the same Bama team it is now, and the Horns haven't exactly played a grueling schedule since then. Meanwhile, Washington has gone down to the wire against a slew of tough teams and always found ways to win. Over the past two years, the Huskies are 10-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less and 9-0 vs. teams in the Top 25. Ewers has all the ability in the world, but Penix is better right now and has more experience.

What are our picks for the big games? Find out in our Blitz Prime subscription newsletter sent today at Noon ET. We pick both games against the spread and an over/under play. We’re 11-5 on straight bets in Prime this year, see you there. Here’s the link.

The Rest of the New Year’s Six Bowls

  • Cotton Bowl | #7 Ohio State (11-1) vs. #9 Missouri (10-2) Friday, 8:00pm ET, ESPN

    • Pick: OSU -4.5

  • Peach Bowl | #10 Penn State (10-2) vs. #11 Ole Miss (10-2) Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN

    • Pick: MISS +4.5

  • Orange Bowl | #5 Florida State (13-0) vs. #6 Georgia (12-1) Saturday, 4:00pm ET, ESPN

    • Pick: UGA -20

  • Fiesta Bowl | #8 Oregon (11-2) vs. #23 Liberty (13-0) Monday, 1:00pm ET, ESPN

    • Pick: ORE -16.5

See this weekend’s full bowl schedule here.

🏈 Thursday Recap & Week 17 Preview

Photo: A Very Elite Man Source: NFL

NFL - Thursday Night Football

  • Cleveland Browns (11-5) 37, New York Jets (6-9) 20: The “is Joe Flacco elite?” debate has been a fun joke amongst football fans over the years, but it might be time to seriously entertain that take as Flacco (309 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT) once again dominated leading to a 34-17 halftime lead as the Browns clinched a playoff berth

See the full box here.

Week 17 - Top Game

Miami Dolphins (11-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (12-3) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • The Ravens currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC with the Dolphins knocking on the door sitting at No. 2, and they can clinch that coveted bye week with a win. The Dolphins would take over the No. 1 seed heading into final week of the regular season with a win - Fins play the Bills next week, which will be a challenge

  • Both teams are coming off great wins in Week 17 over NFC contenders with the Dolphins beating the Cowboys on a last second FG and the Ravens dominating the 49ers on the road

  • That Lamar Jackson performance against the Niners boosted him to first in MVP odds

  • Tyreek Hill seems to be fully healthy after ripping off 99 yards against the Cowboys, which will be key as now his counterpart Jaylen Waddle expected to miss the game due to an ankle injury

  • The Pick? Find out in our Blitz Prime subscription newsletter sent later today!

The Rest of the Slate

  • Saturday Game: Detroit Lions (11-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-5) 8:15pm ET ABC / ESPN

  • Atlanta Falcons (7-8) @ Chicago Bears (6-9) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • New England Patriots (4-11) @ Buffalo Bills (9-6) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • New Orleans Saints (7-8) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • Las Vegas Raiders (7-8) @ Indianapolis Colts (8-7) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • Los Angeles Rams (8-7) @ New York Giants (5-10) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • Arizona Cardinals (3-12) @ Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • San Francisco 49ers (11-4) @ Washington Commanders (4-11) 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • Carolina Panthers (2-13) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7) 1:00pm ET, CBS

  • Tennessee Titans (5-10) @ Houston Texans (8-7) 1:00pm ET, FOX - there are TEN 1pm games on Sunday… BUCKLE UP!

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-7) 4:05pm ET, FOX

  • Los Angeles Chargers (5-10) @ Denver Broncos (8-7) 4:25pm ET, CBS

  • Cincinatti Bengals (8-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) 4:25pm ET, CBS

  • Green Bay Packers (7-8) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-8) 8:20pm ET, NBC

See the current NFL standings here.

Photo: Fenway Pahhhhhhk | Source: USA Today

College Football - Top Bowl Games

  • Wasabi Fenway Bowl | Boston College 23, SMU 14: Facing a three-point deficit early in the 4th quarter, BC used the home crowd at the famous Fenway Park to rally as QB Thomas Castellanos (102 YDS, 1 INT, 156 rush YDS, 2 rush TDs) crossed the goal line twice to grab the W - SMU had great season finishing with their most wins since 1982 (11) 

  • Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl | Rutgers 31, Miami 24: Another home team got a win on a baseball field with the Scarlet Knights edging out the Hurricanes at Yankee Stadium behind a big day from Kyle Monangai (163 YDS, 1 TD) on the ground

  • Pop-Tarts Bowl | #25 Kansas State 28, #18 NC State 19: The Wolfpack were chasing their second ever 10-win season in 137 years of the program but KSU Freshman QB Avery Johnson (178 YDS, 2 TDs, 71 rush YDS, 1 rush TD) had other ideas in his first career start while RB DJ Giddens added another 151 yards on the ground

  • Valero Alamo Bowl | #14 Arizona 38, #12 Oklahoma 24: With OU starter Dillon Gabriel hitting the transfer portal heading to Oregon, Freshman QB Jackson Arnold (361 YDS, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) made his first career leading the Sooners out of a 13-0 hole but his three turnovers and a huge game from QB Noah Fifita (354 YDS, 2 TDs, 1 INT) gave the Wildcats the edge - this was the best bowl matchup wise of the postseason, but get your popcorn ready for this weekend!

NBA - Top Game

  • Boston Celtics 128, Detroit Pistons 122 (OT): At halftime, I was getting ready to write a feel-good story about how the Pistons set an embarrassing record and then rebounded with a win against the best team in the NBA as they led by 19 points behind 22 first half points from Cade Cunningham. However, typical Detroit basketball shenanigans occurred in the second half as the C’s roared back to even the game heading into the 4th quarter. The Pistons were able to hang on to force OT on the road but this Cinderella story has a sad ending as Jayson Tatum (31 PTS, 10 AST) and Kristaps Porzingis (35 PTS, 8 REB) were ultimately too much to handle as they lost a 28th straight game, tying the Sixers for most ever over any span of time - their 27th loss was the most in a single season, The Sad Boys Pistons historic run continues

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

NHL - Top Game

  • Carolina Hurricanes 5, Montreal Canadiens 3: The Canes let a 2-0 lead slip, but thanks to a two-goal third period from Andrei Svechnikov to cap off a hat-trick, the Canes were able to hang on at home for the W

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

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College QB with the most passing yards this season?

A. Jayden Daniels

B. Bo Nix

C. Michael Penix Jr.

D. Caleb Williams

Photo: Tom Brady | Source: NE Patriots Life

On December 29, 2007, the New England Patriots finished the season with an undefeated 16-0 record, the first team to ever go 16-0 (the ‘72 Dolphins had a shorter regular season). In that final regular season game vs. the Giants, Tom Brady threw his 50th TD pass of the season, which also was a record at the time. Peyton Manning later broke the record with the Broncos throwing 55 in 2013 (Mahomes threw for 50 in 2018). - the Giants got their revenge in the Super Bowl later that season handing the Pats their only loss of the year…

Friday

  • NCAAF: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl | Clemson vs. Kentucky Noon ET, ESPN

  • NCAAF: Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl | Oregon State vs. Notre Dame 2:00pm ET, CBS

  • NCAAF: AutoZone Liberty Bowl | Memphis vs. Iowa State 3:30pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAF: Cotton Bowl | #9 Missouri vs. #7 Ohio State 8:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NHL: New York Rangers @ Florida Panthers 7:00pm ET, NHL PP / ESPN+

  • NBA: Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers 7:30pm ET, NBA TV

  • NCAAM: San Diego State @ Gonzaga 9:00pm ET, ESPN2

Saturday

  • NCAAW: South Carolina @ East Carolina Noon ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAF: Peach Bowl | #11 Ole Miss vs. #10 Penn State Noon ET, ESPN

  • NCAAF: TransPerfect Music City Bowl | Auburn vs. Maryland 2:00pm ET, ABC

  • NCAAF: Orange Bowl | #6 Georgia vs. #5 Florida State 4:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAF: Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl | Toledo vs. Wyoming 4:30pm ET, CW Network / Barstool

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes @ Toronto Maple Leafs 7:00pm ET, NHL Network

  • NCAAM: Ohio State @ West Virginia 7:00pm ET, FOX

  • NBA: Philadelphia 76ers @ Chicago Bulls 8:00pm ET, Local

  • NFL: Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys 8:15 ET, ABC / ESPN

Sunday

  • NHL: Chicago Blackhawks @ Dallas Stars 8:00pm ET, NHL PP / ESPN+

  • NBA: Los Angeles Lakers @ New Orleans Pelicans 7:00pm ET, Local

  • NCAAM: Monmouth @ Oklahoma 3:00pm ET, ESPN+

  • NCAAW: Louisville @ Miami 4:00pm ET, ACCN

  • NFL: Week 17 schedule here

Monday

  • NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves @ New York Knicks 3:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • NHL Winter Classic: Vegas Golden Knights @ Seattle Kraken 3:00pm ET, TNT

  • Fiesta Bowl | #23 Liberty vs. #8 Oregon Monday, 1:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Rose Bowl & CFP Semifinal | #4 Alabama vs. #1 Michigan 5:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Sugar Bowl & CFP Semifinal | #3 Texas vs. #2 Washington 8:45pm ET, 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. Michael Penix Jr. The Washington Huskie finished the year with 4,218 total passing yards just ahead of fellow Pac-12 QB Bo Nix (4,145). Heisman trophy winner Jayden Daniels finished the year 3rd with 3,812 yards.

Prime Lock of the Day

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

NCAAF: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

  • Clemson vs. Kentucky: KU +4.5

We’ll see you next year! Yeah, that’s right, we went there. Go have the NYE of your lifetime. And you gambling gods, you know where to go for help picking this weekend’s slate of games.