Holidays mix up all the football schedules, both pro and college | News, Sports, Jobs
I’m going a bit off course with today’s column to concentrate on the wider planning of football in the coming festive season.
First, things are getting a little weird this weekend with the NFL schedule as the league changed from originally five Saturday games, all at undetermined times, to now having three. Oh yeah, and they all now have a set start time. It would be weird if they just let the teams appear when they felt like it, wouldn’t it?
I also see that all three games are on the NFL Network.
The Sunday night game (New England at Las Vegas) was changed to the New York Giants at Washington, which had been a Saturday game.
At least they left out tonight’s game (San Francisco at Seattle) and Monday night with the Packers hosting the Los Angeles Rams.
It will also be a little strange at Christmas and New Year, with those holidays falling on Sundays this year (actually 2023 in the case of New Year).
Most of the league schedule will be played on Christmas Eve Saturday, with three games listed for Christmas Day Sunday including Packers-Dolphins in Miami, and also a Boxing Day game.
Do you remember Boxing Day, the day after Christmas? It’s apparently big in old England.
The following weekend, I had expected the NFL to move all of their Sunday games one day earlier or one day later in deference to the college bowl games on New Year’s Day.
But no, they’re keeping just about all of their games on New Year’s Day, and instead moving all the big bowl games — the College Football Playoff and the traditional ones like the Cotton, Rose and Orange bowls — to either December 31st or January 2nd.
So we have the Fiesta and Peach bowls as the CFP playoff semifinals on New Year’s Eve, of course with the Fiesta Bowl being played at 4pm and with the Michigan vs. TCU.
The Peach Bowl has Georgia and Ohio State starting at 8 p.m., and with the way these college playoff games take foooor-evvvvvver, they could still be playing at midnight in our Eastern time zone. Hopefully it will be over by midnight central.
Also on New Year’s Eve are the Sugar Bowl and the Music City Bowl. Music City Bowl? It sounds like one that should be played closer to Christmas, not New Years.
Anyway, in the other direction of Jan. 2 are the Cotton and Rose bowls, but also the Citrus Bowl and the ReliaQuest Bowl. What is a ReliaQuest?
And the national championship – Michigan vs Ohio State, anyone? — won’t be until Monday, Jan. 9, so you can count on there not being an NFL game on Monday night that weekend, the final week of the regular season, unless they play it at 3 p.m. And that won’t happen.
So for this week’s picks, some games maybe not when you expected them to be:
San Francisco at Seattle – San Fran hardly missed a beat last weekend with Brock Purdy at quarterback. With the Seahawks reeling, I expect that to continue. 49ers, 27-20.
Saturday, at 1 p.m
Indianapolis at Minnesota – Indy has one thing going for it – the Colts didn’t play last weekend. Doesn’t sound like much of a vote of confidence. Vikings, 33-20.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m
Baltimore at Cleveland – As much as Cleveland looks rotten, the Browns have two starting QBs – Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett – while the Ravens may not even have their primary backup when Tyler Huntley went down last week after Lamar Jackson was concussed the week before. This pick might look silly if Baltimore gets someone back, but I’ll take the Browns, 20-16.
Miami at Buffalo — Two teams that need their backup cameras, but the weather could make the difference when a Florida team heads north in December. Bills, 23-16.
Sunday, at 1 p.m
Atlanta at New Orleans — Only in the NFC South can you be 4-9 and in the middle of a playoff run. That’s what the saints are.
And while New Orleans is in last place, it is only two games behind Tampa Bay all alone in first place. When the Falcons bench QB Marcus Mariota, I’ll take the Saints, 24-19.
Pittsburgh at Carolina – Carolina’s coaches say they are all blood and guts and about being physical as the Steelers try to figure out who will play QB. Give me the team with answers, not questions. Panthers, 24-17.
Philadelphia at Chicago — I’m going to worry about Philly when it has a three-game lead with two weeks to go for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Until then, it’s full speed ahead. Eagles, 34-19.
Kansas City at Houston — It will take a competent offense to exploit the Chiefs’ weakness on defense. So KC should be OK this week. Chiefs, 38-13.
Dallas at Jacksonville — Without a strong defense, I don’t see how the Jags can keep up. Cowboys, 33-20.
Detroit at New York Jets – I keep underplaying the Lions, but this game makes me think of when the Lions played New England – and didn’t score a point. This New York group also has a dominant defense along with a pedestrian offense at best. Jets, 26-22.
Sunday, 4 p.m
Arizona at Denver — Both starting QBs appear to be out. Do the Broncos have a backup since they can’t seem to do anything else right? At least Arizona has Colt McCoy. Cardinals, 27-20.
Tennessee at Los Angeles Chargers – Two ships pass tonight, the Titans going backwards and LA full speed ahead. Chargers, 23-19.
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay — Cincy is on top of a real division; The Bucs just lead the NFC South. Bengals, 35-24.
New England in Las Vegas – A patented late season run for New England, assuming Bill Belichick takes over offensive play from whatever hack ex-head coach he has to take it away from. Patriots, 20-11.
New York Giants at Washington – Washington’s Ron Rivera should know what to do with a week off, facing a Giants team that really needs a week off. Commanders, 29-20.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay – The Packers had a week off, but the Rams snuck in three extra days after Thursday’s game a week ago. Still, take the Packers 20-13.
Last week — 8-5, 62 percent. Season – 123-83-2, 60 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is [email protected]
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