Holiday Picks, Connor X2 & NBA Ejections


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning 

It’s our last NFL Power Rankings of 2023, but late-night highlights took over on Tuesday. From Champions League Knockout bids to the Battle of the Connors (Bedard vs. McDavid) and some NBA ejections, we’ll run it back.

 Holiday Schedule: The Sportsletter Team is off for the holidays beginning next Monday (Dec. 18). We’ll be off for two weeks, but we’ll return to our normal schedule on Wednesday (Jan. 3). You’ll receive 3-4 newsletters from us over the break, so keep your eyes open.

  • CFB Bowl Season Guide (Saturday, Dec. 16)
  • Underdog Features (Wednesday, Dec. 20/27)
  • 2023 Sports Rewind (Friday, Dec. 29)

Letter Rip!


The Penultimate Power Rankings

Image via Joe Stella / Media Mobilize

49ers 1st Team to Clinch Postseason, But Muddled Playoff Races Make Things Interesting Down the Stretch

The first playoff ticket has been claimed by the 49ers, and San Francisco remains on top in our final NFL Power Rankings of 2023. Those dominant Niners look like the favorites, and they officially locked up a postseason nod thanks to the Packers’ loss on Monday Night Football. When we return in 2024, we’ll have one final week of rankings before playoffs.

Top-10 Turmoil: We saw a lot of movement in this week’s top-10 with four losses to last week’s top-7, including the Dolphins, Eagles, Chiefs, and Lions. We won’t bump them all too far, though. They still have some of the best records in football, but things look bleak.

The Playoff Hunt: We stated yesterday that a ridiculous 30 (out of 32) teams are still mathematically eligible for the playoffs following Week 14. That’s unheard of, but it’s happening. Only the Panthers (1-12) and Patriots (3-10) have been technically eliminated from the postseason. Even the 3-10 Cardinals are still alive for the moment. Playoff scenarios and clinch counters become the story in these last four weeks. Your team could go from 5-8 to 9-8 and a wild card bid with one good month of football. So keep the hope!

NFL Power Rankings (Week 15)

1. 49ers (10-3) | — *Clinched Playoffs

2. Ravens (10-3) | ↑1

3. Cowboys (10-3) | ↑2

4. Eagles (10-3) | ↓2

5. Dolphins (9-4) | ↓1

6. Browns (8-5) | ↑8

7. Bills (7-6) | ↑6

8. Chiefs (8-5) | ↓1

9. Lions (9-4) | ↓3

10. Broncos (7-6) | ↑2

Teams 11-20

11. Jaguars (8-5) | ↓3

12. Rams (6-7) | ↓1

13. Texans (7-6) | ↓4

14. Bengals (7-6) | ↑4

15. Colts (7-6) | ↓5

16. Vikings (7-6) | ↑1

17. Seahawks (6-7) | ↓1

18. Steelers (7-6) | ↓3

19. Saints (6-7) | ↑2

20. Buccaneers (6-7) | ↑4

Teams 21-32

21. Jets (5-8) | ↑4

22. Falcons (6-7) | ↓3

23. Packers (6-7) | ↓3

24. Bears (5-8) | ↑5

25. Titans (5-8) | ↑2

26. Giants (5-8)  | ↑3

27. Chargers (5-8) | ↓5

28. Raiders (5-8) | ↓5

29. Cardinals (3-10) | ↓2

30. Commanders (4-9) | —

31. Patriots (3-10) | ↑1

32. Panthers (1-12) | ↓1

Read More

USA Today: Week 15 Power Rankings: How High Can Cowboys Climb?

B/R: New Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Entering Week 15?

CBS Sports: Week 15 Power Rankings: Cowboys Legit SBLVIII Contenders, Browns Make Huge Leap With Joe Flacco

NFL Playoff Snapshot


1. WEST: 49ers (10-3)

2. EAST: Cowboys (10-3)

3. NORTH: Lions (9-4)

4. SOUTH: Buccaneers (6-7)

5. WC: Eagles (10-3)

6. WC: Vikings (7-6)

7. WC: Packers (6-7)

In the Hunt: Seahawks (6-7), Rams (6-7), Falcons (6-7), Saints (6-7), Bears (5-8), Giants (5-8)


1. NORTH: Ravens (10-3)

2. EAST: Dolphins (9-4)

3. WEST: Chiefs (8-5)

4. SOUTH: Jaguars (8-5)

5. WC: Browns (8-5)

6. WC: Steelers (7-6)

7. WC: Colts (7-6)

In the Hunt: Texans (7-6), Broncos (7-6), Bills (7-6), Bengals (7-6), Raiders (5-8), Chargers (5-8), Jets (5-8), Titans (5-8)



Battle of the Connors

Photo: Andy Devlin / Getty Images

Connor Bedard Meets Connor McDavid & NBA Ejections Abound in Fun Night of Pro Sports

Our late-night highlights could’ve garnered two separate sections, but we combined them today in a race against the clock. The NHL spotlight was on Edmonton last night as rookie Connor Bedard met Connor McDavid for the first time in the Blackhawks-Oilers clash. Bedard lit the lamp first, but McDavid (2 assists) and the Oilers got the last laugh (4-1).


Oilers Beat Blackhawks (4-1) in Battle of Connors

*Bedard Scores, But McDavid, Oilers Win 8th Straight

Maple Leafs Rattle Rangers (7-3)

*Auston Matthews (2G, 2A) Unstoppable for Toronto

Hurricanes Drop Senators (4-1), End 4-Game Skid

*Sebastian Aho (2G, 1A) Does the Work for Carolina

A wild night in the NBA brought ejections for Draymond Green (Warriors) and Nikola Jokic (Nuggets). Jokic’s ejection was an outrageous and unwarranted buzzkill in Chicago, but Green flat-out swung on Suns’ center Jusuf Nurkic in another episode of Draymond unhinged. He was suspended for five games in early November for his headlock on Rudy Gobert. Expect to see some more missed time for Draymond.


Mavericks Hold Off Lakers (127-125)

*Dante Exum Scores 17 in 4th, Dagger 3

Nuggets Outlast Bulls (114–106) on the Road

*Nikola Jokic Gets Tossed, Draws Boos in Chicago

Suns Survive Warriors (119-116)

*Draymond Green Tossed, Devin Booker (32) Leads Phoenix



KOs Coming: 3 More In, 2 Spots Left

Photo: Lars Ronbog / Getty Images

Champions League: Copenhagen, PSV & Napoli Advance With Last-Match Drama; Man. United Eliminated

Two spots left! The UEFA Champions League Group Stage saw three matches turn the fates of the Knockout Stage with narrow getaways by teams on the bubble — Copenhagen, PSV, and Napoli. All three needed a win or some form of help to advance. And the results of those games, with a Manchester United loss to Bayern (1-0), left the Reds on the outside looking in. Tuesday was quite a show, but five teams still have a shot at the final two bids in today’s matches.

 Matchday 6 Highlights

Lens def. Sevilla (2-1)

Real Madrid def. Union Berlin (3-2)

Bayern def. Man. United (1-0)

Copenhagen def. Galatasaray (1-0)

Napoli def. Braga (2-0)

Benfica def. RB Salzburg (3-1)

Arsenal draw PSV (1-1)

Inter draw Real Sociedad (0-0)

Group Standings

  • Group A: Bayern (16 pts), Copenhagen (8 pts), Galatasaray (5 pts)Man. United (4 pts)
  • Group B: Arsenal (13 pts), PSV (9 pts), Lens (8 pts)Sevilla (2 pts)
  • Group C: Real Madrid (18 pts), Napoli (10 pts), Braga (4 pts)Union Berlin (2 pts)
  • Group D: Real Sociedad (12 pts), Inter (12 pts), Benfica (4 pts)RB Salzburg (4 pts)
  • Group E: Atletico Madrid (11 pts), Lazio (10 pts), Feyenoord (6 pts)Celtic (1 pt)
  • Group F: Dortmund (10 pts), PSG (7 pts), Newcastle (5 pts), AC Milan (5 pts)
  • Group G: Man. City (15 pts), RB Leipzig (9 pts), Young Boys (4 pts)Crvena Zvezda (1 pt)
  • Group H: Barcelona (12 pts), FC Porto (9 pts), Shakhtar Donetsk (9 pts), Antwerp (0 pts)

Final Group Matches: Teams to Watch

Fourteen of the 16 Knockout Stage spots have been claimed. The last two will come down to Group F (PSG-Newcastle-Milan) and Group H (FC Porto-Shakhtar Donetsk) this afternoon. *See Today’s Champions League Schedule in the Must-Watch List.

Read More

ESPN: Man United Eliminated, Napoli & Copenhagen Heading to Last 16

CBS Sports: Real Madrid Finish Champions League Group Stage With Perfect Record



 The NFL’s International Play

The NFL owners are at winter meetings this week, and they’ll be voting on a number of rules and scheduling changes. Among them is a dramatic push for global viewership that could double the number of games played internationally. (CBS Sports)

 Hawk-Eyeing the Scoring Record

Caitlin Clark etched her name in the women’s college basketball history books last week when she scored her 3,000th career point. Now, Iowa’s superstar guard has her sights set on an even bigger record — Kelsey Plum’s Division I mark. (FOX Sports)

 Ohtani’s Decade With the Dodgers

Is Shohei Ohtani worth it? The question of “worth” is a big one and can be approached in countless ways. Here are a few roles Ohtani could play for the Dodgers over the next decade, from DH to pitching, or whatever L.A. needs him to be. (ESPN+)





Today’s Must-Watch List


Pacers at Bucks (8:00 pm ET)

Lakers at Spurs (8:00 pm ET, NBATV)


Bruins at Devils (7:30 pm ET, TNT)

Sabres at Avalanche (10:00 pm ET, TNT)

 UEFA Champions League (Matchday 6)

Atletico Madrid vs. Lazio (3:00 pm ET, CBS/Paramount+)

Borussia Dortmund vs. PSG (3:00 pm ET, CBS/Paramount+)

Newcastle vs. AC Milan (3:00 pm ET, CBS/Paramount+)

Porto vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (3:00 pm ET, CBS/Paramount+)

Download The Sportsletter’s Must-Watch Calendar