Packers Continue to Defend Lambeau; Patriots Continue to Roll
The Green Bay Packers have been one of the best home teams as of late when it comes to the regular season, and they kept that alive with a 36-28 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon. Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, leading his team to their 10th straight regular season home win, which is the longest active streak in the league. The Packers' QB pulled this feat off after missing practice all week due to a broken toe in his foot, as he completed 28 of his 45 passes for 307 yards, bouncing back from a 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week. The Rams continue to struggle coming off their bye week, dropping three games in a row, with a -5 turnover margin in that span. The Packers scored 16 points off of three Rams turnovers on Sunday, moving to 9-3 on the season, as they have yet to lose consecutive games within the same season under head coach Matt Lafleur. Meanwhile, the rise of Mac Jones under Bill Belichick continued in New England, as he threw two touchdown passes to Kendrick Bourne in the Patriots' 36-13 rout of the shorthanded Tennessee Titans. The win is their sixth in a row, as the Pats move a half game ahead of the Buffalo Bills atop the AFC East, as they get their first win over the Titans since Mike Vrabel took over as head coach in 2018. The Patriots' defense gave them a huge boost, forcing four turnovers, helping them to improve to 6-1 against AFC opponents this season.
Other key scores saw Joe Mixon run for a career-high 165 yards as the Cincinnati Bengals swept away the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 41-10 blowout. Leonard Fournette found the end zone four times as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held off the Indianapolis Colts, 38-31, on the road. The Baltimore Ravens overcame four Lamar Jackson interceptions for a 16-10 Sunday night win over the Cleveland Browns. Deebo Samuel rushed for two touchdowns, while Elijah Mitchell had 133 yards and a score on the ground in the San Francisco 49ers third straight win, 34-26, against the Minnesota Vikings. The Denver Broncos were sparked by Pat Surtain II's two interceptions of Justin Herbert for a 28-13 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. And Cam Newton was benched after throwing two interceptions, while the Miami Dolphins won their fourth straight, 33-10, over the Carolina Panthers.
Curry, Warriors Win 8th Straight; Bucks Stay Hot
Steph Curry showed a lot of fire, which led to a technical foul, but then he found the opportunity to boast on the officials, so he took it. And rightfully so with the way he played, as the hot shooter scored 33 points in the Golden State Warriors' 105-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors have now won eight in a row, thanks to a furious Curry getting hot late with 11 of his points coming after a technical foul with 9:08 to go in the fourth quarter. He lost his temper after not drawing a foul on a drive, and then after making a three-pointer later on, he signaled a technical foul sign toward the official. Otto Porter Jr. added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Poole had 17 points, as they move on to a showdown Tuesday night with the Phoenix Suns, who have won 16 straight. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled away from the Indiana Pacers for a 118-100 victory, moving their win streak to seven straight games. The defending champs used a big third quarter, where they outscored the Pacers, 39-27, thanks to Jrue Holiday scoring 11 of his 23 points in those 12 minutes. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Bobby Portis had 15 points, Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton had 14 points apiece, and George Hill scored 13 in the victory.
Other key scores saw Marcus Smart post 21 points, as the Boston Celtics topped the Toronto Raptors, 109-97, for their fourth win in six games. Dillon Brooks' 21 points led the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies over the Sacramento Kings, 128-101, without Ja Morant. And LeBron James' 33 points powered the Los Angeles Lakers past the Detroit Pistons, 110-106, out west.
Bucks Sign Center DeMarcus Cousins
The Milwaukee Bucks have found their groove after an uneven start to their season, and now they're getting even more help after agreeing to a deal with veteran center DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday. The 31-year-old signed a non-guaranteed deal, but teams must be agreed on guaranteed contracts by January 7th. He will fill the void that was left with center Brook Lopez being sidelined with a back injury. Cousins most recently split time between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers last season, and played a vital role in the Clippers' run to the Western Conference Finals. Over his 10-year NBA career, he has posted 20.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, but the four-time All-Star has been hampered by injuries, including a torn ACL and an Achilles tear.
Hawks Lose Bogdanovic For Two Weeks
The Atlanta Hawks will be a bit shorthanded, right as their recent win streak came to an end, as Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss two weeks with a right ankle sprain. The guard had an MRI to confirm the injury, which was suffered during their 99-90 loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday. Cam Reddish also went down with an injury in the road contest, which saw their seven-game win streak come to an end. Bogdanovic is sitting at 11.6 points per game this season, which is his second with the team.
Capitals Get Past Hurricanes Late; Leafs Get Another Road Win
The Washington Capitals stayed hot with a quality, thrilling road win on Sunday afternoon, getting past the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, at PNC Arena. Dmitry Orlov played the role of hero with a power play goal with 2:55 remaining, sending his team to their ninth win in the past 11 games. Alex Ovechkin and Aliaksei Protas also scored, doing so just 59 seconds apart in the second period, while John Carlson added an empty-net goal and two assists. The Caps have gone 9-1-1 during that span, moving in to first place in the Metropolitan Division. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs tied a franchise record with their seventh straight road win, earning a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night. Michael Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot, and William Nylander all had a goal and an assist, helping the Leafs tie the mark that they set in the 1940-1941, 1960-1961, and 2002-2003 seasons. Auston Matthews also found the back of the net for a third straight game, while Wayne Simmonds scored to support Jack Campbell, who had 37 saves between the pipes. Toronto has not lost a road game since dropping their first three away from home to begin the season, as they swept a four-game road trip, including outscoring the three California teams, 15-4, on the way.
Other key scores saw Ryan Hartman score in a third straight game, helping his Minnesota Wild double-up the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2. Andreas Johnsson finished with two goals and two assists, leading the New Jersey Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2. Brad Marchand tied the game with a goal and then set up David Pastrnak's go-ahead tally in the Boston Bruins' 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks. And James Reimer had 29 saves in the San Jose Sharks' 2-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sharks Place Evander Kane on Waivers
The San Jose Sharks are not dealing with Evander Kane once his suspension is up, as they sent the forward to waivers on Sunday and plan to send him to the AHL if he isn't claimed by another team. The move comes right before his 21-game suspension was up for submitting a fake vaccination card, as that was up ahead of their game Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane is now fully vaccinated, and if he clears waivers, he will report to the AHL's San Jose Barracuda on Tuesday. He has switched agents recently, and his new agent, Dan Milstein of Gold Star Sports, has been attempting to facilitate a trade for his client. The 30-year-old is three years and $49 million in to his deal with San Jose, but is with his third organization after spending time with the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres. He has been productive on the ice, including posting 22 goals and 27 assists over 56 games a season ago.
Kansas, Alabama End Tough Weekends on High Note
Two of the top 10 teams in college basketball had a rough Thanksgiving weekend with unranked upset losses, but they ended that with victories on Sunday. That included fourth-ranked Kansas taking care of Iona, 96-83, in the ESPN Events Invitational. Christian Braun had 18 points and seven rebounds, while Ochai Agbaji added 17 in the first meeting between coaches Bill Self and Rick Pitino. David McCormack added 13 points for the 5-1 Jayhawks, who were upset by unranked Dayton, 74-73, on a buzzer beater Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the 10th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide overcame their stunning loss to Iona on Thanksgiving with a 96-84 victory over Miami. Keon Ellis had 22 points, while Jaden Shackelford chipped in 15 points in the fifth place game of the same event. The Crimson Tide move in to 6-1 ahead of Monday's new AP Polls coming out, as they also got 13 points apiece from JD Davison and Juwan Gary. The Hurricanes fall to 4-3 on the season despite 21 points and 10 rebounds from Kameron McGusty.
Other key scores saw seventh-ranked Villanova crush La Salle, 72-46, behind Collin Gillespie's 13 points. The 13th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks and 23rd-ranked Florida Gators moved to 6-0 with wins over Pennsylvania and Troy respectively. And 21st-ranked Seton Hall took care of Bethune-Cookman, 84-70, despite 30 points from Joe French.
Rangers Give Semien Seven-Year Deal; Sign Jon Gray/Kole Calhoun
The Texas Rangers got a powerful addition to their infield on Sunday, signing Marcus Semien to a seven-year contract that is worth $175 million. He returns to the AL West after moving on from the Oakland Athletics to have a stellar 2021 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. After struggling during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season where he hit just .223, he went on to hit .265 with 45 home runs, breaking Brian Dozier's record for home runs by a second baseman. He moved from shortstop to second base last season and went on to win a Gold Glove, playing in every regular season game for the second time in three years. Despite being outshined by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the Blue Jays, both players were American League MVP Finalists, as Semien was second in WAR, and had his second top-three finish in MVP voting over the past three seasons.
In separate moves, the Rangers also gave pitcher Jon Gray a four-year contract worth $56 million. The deal is pending physical. Gray spent his first seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies, going 53-49 with a 4.59 ERA over 152 games. They also gave 34-year-old outfielder Kole Calhoun a deal, this after he spent the past two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Over 10 seasons, he has appeared in 1,071 games, batting .248 with 161 home runs and 508 RBIs.
Twins' Byron Buxton Gets $100 Million Extension
The Minnesota Twins finally landed the contract that they have been working on getting since the end of the regular season, giving outfielder Byron Buxton a $100 million extension. The contract is good for seven years, includes a full no-trade clause, and he will be paid $500,000 every time he reaches a certain amount of plate appearances, which surpasses 500 and 600. There are MVP bonuses as well, including $8 million for first, $7 million for second, $6 million for third, and so on. The deal avoids Buxton becoming a free agent after the 2022 season, as he has spent his entire seven-year career with the Twins. He is coming off a season that saw him set career-bests with a .306 batting average along with 19 home runs, despite getting limited to 65 games due to injuries. He has only played over 100 games once, which was in 2017 when he appeared in 140 games and won a Gold Glove. Over seven seasons, the speedy outfielder has hit .248 with 70 home runs and 204 RBIs.
Blue Jays Land Gausman on Five-Year Contract
The Toronto Blue Jays got a major boost to their starting rotation on Sunday, giving starting pitcher Kevin Gausman a five-year contract that is worth $110 million. Gausman enjoyed a career resurrection with the San Francisco Giants, including a 2.81 ERA and 227 strikeouts over 192 innings, which saw him walk just 50 batters in 2021. That came after accepting a qualifying offer, as this was a gradual growth that included a 3.62 ERA and 79 strikeouts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Last season saw him reach his first All-Star Game and finish sixth in the National League Cy Young voting, and he is expected to take the role that Steven Matz left after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals. Before his run with the Giants, the right-hander had a 4.22 ERA from 2014 to 2019 with the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, and Cincinnati Reds.
Rays Agree to Deal With Veteran Kluber
Veteran starting pitcher Corey Kluber is staying in the AL East, moving on from the New York Yankees to join the Tampa Bay Rays on a one-year contract. The deal will pay him $8 million, and could reach $13 million including incentives. The 35-year-old, who turns 36 in April, pitched in 80 innings with the Yankees last season, but missed three months with a shoulder sprain. Over 16 starts with New York, Kluber went 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA, including a no-hitter in May in a 2-0 win over the Texas Rangers. The hurler is a former two-time Cy Young Award winner, but hasn't pitched a full season since 2018. He spent his first nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians, winning 98 games and surpassing 200 strikeouts in five separate years.
Marlins Add Avisail Garcia; Near Extension With Alcantara
The Miami Marlins had a solid addition to their lineup, along with a solid move for the young core of their team, starting with signing outfielder Avisail Garcia to a four-year, $53 million contract. The 30-year-old is entering his fifth MLB team, with his best run coming with the Milwaukee Brewers, including him hitting 29 home runs and 86 RBIs this past season. He has also spent time with the Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Chicago White Sox, and did make the All-Star Game once in 2017, ironically in Miami. Over 10 MLB seasons, Garcia has hit .270 with 127 home runs and 475 RBIs, with most of his time coming in right field.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara is set to get a five-year contract extension that is worth $56 million. The 26-year-old has gone 20-34 with a 3.48 ERA over four seasons, and started 33 games for them last year. He totaled 201 strikeouts in 2021 and went 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA. Alcantara joined Zack Wheeler and Walker Buehler as the only pitchers to reach 200 innings and 200 strikeouts last year. He became the first Marlins pitcher in 19 years to achieve that feat and fifth ever, joining Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Ryan Dempster, and A.J. Burnett.
Lincoln Riley Leaving Oklahoma For USC
The Oklahoma Sooners were stunned on Saturday night with a comeback loss against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and then shocked even more on Sunday when they lost head coach Lincoln Riley. After saying he was not leaving the team for LSU, he agreed to move on from the program to become the head coach of the USC Trojans. The 38-year-old replaces Clay Helton, who was fired in September after going 46-24 over seven seasons. During his time with the Sooners, he led them to four straight Big 12 Titles and three College Football Playoff appearances, and they were on pace for another this year before two tough losses. Those three playoff appearances came in his first four seasons, but Saturday's 37-33 loss to the Cowboys eliminated them from the Big 12 Title Game and the CFP conversation. With Riley moving on, former Sooners head coach Bob Stoops will coach them in their bowl game.
Florida Names Billy Napier Next Head Coach
The Florida Gators announced on Sunday that they are tabbing Louisiana head coach Billy Napier as their next head football coach. Napier will still coach the Ragin' Cajuns in the Sun Belt Championship Game next Saturday afternoon against Appalachian State. The 42-year-old has spent the past four seasons with the program, leading them to 10 or more wins in each of the past three years. Before that, they had never won 10 games in a single season in program history. Napier had already turned down SEC coaching offers in recent years, and did receive interest this year from the likes of LSU and Virginia Tech. He has led a powerful offense for the Ragin' Cajuns with 31.9 points per game, and will now replace Dan Mullen, who went 34-15 over four seasons, but lost four straight games to Power 5 teams this year.
New Mexico State, Washington State Name New Coaches
Two other programs named their next permanent head football coaches, including New Mexico State naming Jerry Kill to replace Doug Martin. The 60-year-old replaces Martin after his contract was not renewed, but the team will not officially announce Kill as the new head coach until Monday. New Mexico State ended their regular season with a win over UMass, but went just 2-10 this season. Kill was playing the role of interim coach for TCU after they fired Gary Patterson, and thy ended their season on Friday with a loss to Iowa State. Martin's contract will officially expire in June, as he went 25-74 during his run with the Aggies.
Meanwhile, the Washington State Cougars moved Jake Dickert to the role of permanent head coach, giving him a five-year contract in that position. The news will be formally introduced in a news conference this week, as Dickert had spent the previous two seasons as their defensive coordinator. He took over as acting head coach on October 18th after the team fired Nick Rolovich for not complying with the state's vaccine mandate. Rolovich was in his second season with the team, and was let go along with four other assistant coaches for the same reason. After taking over, Dickert went 3-2 with Washington State this season, and the 38-year-old capped all that off with a 40-13 rout over in-state rival Washington.