Championship Weekend in college football features a full slate of great matchups, while Week 14 of the NFL calendar boasts a few showdowns that could be championship previews. This is your Weekend Primer.
FIVE HOT TOPICS
1. Injury woes for Vikings: All is not well in Minnesota. Adam Thielen continues to battle a hamstring issue that will likely keep him out of Sunday’s game vs. the Lions, while Dalvin Cook (chest injury) is in a race against the clock. The Vikings have lost two of their last four and trailed by at least two touchdowns in the other two.
2. Jameis on the clock: Jameis Winston’s time could be up in Tampa Bay if he doesn’t finish the season strong. The former No. 1 pick has again struggled with turnovers (a league-leading 24), and head coach Bruce Arians refused to guarantee his long-term future with the organization this week.
3. Return of Eli: With Daniel Jones doubtful for Monday’ game against Philadelphia due to a high-ankle sprain, it’s looking like one final encore for Eli Manning in a Giants uniform. The Giants are 9.5-point dogs vs. the Eagles.
4. CFB Playoff permutations: Ohio State, LSU and Clemson are all likely in, which leaves one spot for Georgia, Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor to fight for. The Bulldogs currently hold the fourth slot, but if they go down to the Tigers, they are most likely out. That would open the door for the Sooners and Utes, who are +135 and +110, respectively, to make the playoff.
5. Heisman awaits for Burrow: Joe Burrow is set to put the cherry on his likely Heisman Trophy-winning season in the SEC Championship Game. Burrow, who this week won the Golden Arm Award, has thrown 44 touchdowns against just six interceptions with a 78.3 completion percentage. The Tigers are 7-point favorites vs. Georgia.
It’s Week 14 of The Hurry Up, and @VSiNLive Weekend Host @mlombardiNFL is back to break down…— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) December 8, 2019
– Which 10-2 squad will put up the most points
– Who will have more rushing yards between Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen pic.twitter.com/bLGmwhGB2y
The aforementioned SEC Championship Game saw an initial wave of public LSU money push the line up to 7.5, at which point sharp action came in hard on Georgia +7.5. The Big 12 Championship Game has also generated some professional interest on Oklahoma. The public, meanwhile, is all over Baylor. Pros have taken positions on a few NFL games as well, including San Francisco +3 in New Orleans (line down to 2.5), Cincinnati +8.5 in Cleveland (number down to 7) and under 48.5 in the Colts-Bucs game (total down to 47).
Baylor (+255) vs. Oklahoma: The Big 12 Championship is a fascinating affair between 11-1 teams that met just three weeks ago, when Baylor infamously blew a 28-3 lead at home. The Sooners have won five straight, but the Bears have covered six of nine and obviously had Oklahoma on the ropes the last time they played.
Bengals (+250) at Browns: Cincinnati finally broke through with win No. 1 last week and are live dogs again vs. their division rivals. The Bengals have won seven of nine against the Browns and are simply a better team with Andy Dalton under center. The Browns have covered just 11 of their last 35 home games, so this one figures to be close.
Saturday — Georgia (+7) vs. LSU: The SEC Championship Game will take place without Alabama for just the second time in six years. This will be the Bulldogs third straight appearance, and they likely need to win to return to the CFB Playoff. LSU, meanwhile, is chasing its second SEC title of the decade. The last time these teams met, in October 2018, the Tigers won by 20.
Sunday — Chiefs (+3) at Patriots: Two AFC division leaders meet on Sunday in a potential preview of the AFC Championship Game. This is a battle between Kansas City’s high-octane offense and New England’s phenomenal defense. These teams played a pair of thrillers last season, capped by an epic AFC title game that ultimately swung on an ill-timed Dee Ford offside penalty. The next chapter in this rivalry should be riveting.