How many Christmas wishes do we get as the next-to-last week of the NFL season approaches? Here are four.
That the NFL doesn’t try to sneak in one last Thursday night game, now that the TNF schedule officially ended last week. That we go a week without an MVP candidate getting knocked out with injury, after two straight weeks of it happening. That there’s not a single appearance of an index card or the phrase did not survive the ground in any game. And that there’s no reason to discuss workplace leg-shaving at any time.
As for the games themselves, 13 of the 16 spread over three days this holiday weekend have playoff implications, including, amazingly, both games that will compete with the NBA on Christmas day.
If there were such a thing as controlling your own destiny (which there isn’t, because destiny can’t be controlled), the Ravens would control theirs. Win their final two games, both at home, against Colts and Bengals teams with a combined eight wins as of this week, and they’re a wild card. The Colts looked as if they hit a wall last Thursday in losing badly to the Broncos and Brock Osweiler. The Ravens’ Alex Collins is doing sort of a reincarnation of Justin Forsett: out of nowhere and into the top 10 in NFL rushing (844 yards).
Isaiah Thomas made his Cleveland Cavaliers debut against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday and is sitting out against the Boston Celtics the following day. It would have been cosmically perfect for the point guard to play for the first time this season against the team that traded him away, but it made more sense for Thomas to come back to a game with lower stakes.
We figure it will kill Thomas to sit against Boston, however, given that he’s said plenty about the Celtics since they traded him in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster last August. Thomas finished fifth in the league’s MVP voting lat year, averaging the third-most points per game while leading Boston to the top seed in the league.