NFL Clinch Scenarios & Jokic Calls Bank


By: Jeff Yoder

Happy Friday 

If you’re the “early-to-bed” type, you’ve missed some crazy late-night game-winners this week. Shortly after midnight ET last night, Nikola Jokic called game from 40 feet. We also got our first taste of Wemby vs. Giannis, and the NBA and NHL revealed their early All-Star nods.

But first, it’s a “regular” season weekend of NFL action that feels more like… the playoffs before the playoffs? Week 18 is bringing clinching scenarios and chaos unlike ever before in NFL history. Five spots. Eleven teams. Anything can happen.

Letter Rip!


Clinching Chaos: Week 18 Scenarios

Image via Joe Stella / Media Mobilize

Who’s In? Who’s Out? And Who Needs Whose Help in Unprecedented Week 18?

Think Week 18 is just another weekend of football? Think again. A whopping 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams are still postseason eligible entering the final week of the regular season. That ties the NFL record set in 2006 — and that year was shortened due to a strike. What you’re about to witness on Saturday and Sunday is unlike anything seen before in the NFL’s Super Bowl era. Nine teams have clinched while 11 squads enter the weekend with their fates up in the air… Eleven! That means 1/3 of the league hinges on an 11th-hour miracle scenario. And lucky for you, we cracked the codes on every possible outcome. Eleven squads. Five open spots. Dozens of potential playoff brackets. Let’s crunch some numbers.

Who’s In?

AFC: Ravens (13-3)

AFC: Dolphins (11-5)

AFC: Chiefs (10-6)

AFC: Browns (11-5)

NFC: 49ers (12-4)

NFC: Cowboys (11-5)

NFC: Lions (11-5)

NFC: Eagles (11-5)

NFC: Rams (9-7)

Available Playoff Spots

AFC: 3 Open

NFC: 2 Open

AFC Clinching Scenarios

(5 Teams, 3 Spots)

Bills (10-6) → 87% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Dolphins (OR) Losses by Steelers (OR) Jaguars

*Bills Can Win AFC East and No. 2 Seed or Miss the Playoffs Entirely

Jaguars (9-7) → 68% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Titans (OR) Loss by Steelers (AND) Colts-Texans Doesn’t End in Tie

Colts (9-7) → 46% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Texans (OR) Losses by Steelers (AND) Jaguars

Texans (9-7) → 53% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Colts (AND) Losses by Jaguars (OR) Steelers

Steelers (9-7) → 46% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Ravens (AND) Losses by Bills (OR) Jaguars

*Remember: The Ravens are resting their starters

NFC Clinching Scenarios

(6 Teams, 2 Spots)

Buccaneers (8-8) → 63% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Panthers (NFC South Champs)

Packers (8-8) → 63% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Bears (OR) Losses by Seahawks (AND) Either Saints or Bucs

Seahawks (8-8) → 25% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Cardinals (AND) Losses by Packers (AND) Either Saints or Bucs

Saints (8-8) → 31% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Falcons (AND) Loss by Bucs (OR) Losses by Seahawks (AND) Packers

Falcons (7-9) → 14% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Saints (AND) Loss by Bucs

Vikings (7-9) → 4% Playoff Probability

In With Win Over Lions (AND) Losses by Seahawks (AND) Either Saints or Bucs

Got all that? We knew you could handle it. No matter how you spin it (or how we try to make sense of all the potential outcomes), you can simply look at the playoff seeding and decipher if your team needs a victory this weekend, then math-out who else to root for. A lot can change in the next 72 hours. We’ll know the playoffs by Monday. Here are the games that will determine who’s in and who’s out.

Week 18 Games With Playoff Implications

Steelers at Ravens (Sat. 4:30 pm ET, ESPN)

Texans at Colts (Sat. 8:15 pm ET, ESPN)

Buccaneers at Panthers (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, FOX)

Vikings at Lions (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, FOX)

Falcons at Saints (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, CBS)
Jaguars at Titans (Sun. 1:00 pm ET, CBS)

Seahawks at Cardinals (Sun. 4:25 pm ET, FOX)

Bears at Packers (Sun. 4:25 pm ET, CBS)

Bills at Dolphins (Sun. 8:20 pm ET, NBC)

Read More

NY Times: Mapping the Paths That Remain for Each NFL Team in Week 18

SI: Teams Resting Starters, Fighting for Seeding in Week 18 Causes Chaos for Bettors

FTW: Patrick Mahomes & Lamar Jackson: Which Teams Are Resting Starters in Week 18?



No Joke: Jokic Calls Game

Photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

NIkola Jokic Caps 18-Point 4th-Quarter Rally With 40-Foot Game-Winner to Beat Warriors (130-127)

Are you joking?! Two NBA games on Thursday were a delight, starting with the first-ever all-alien battle of Wemby vs. Giannis, but Nikola Jokic stole the show in the nightcap with a “Shot of the Year” moment. The Warriors took an 18-point lead on the Nuggets in the 4th quarter before Denver came storming back at the Chase Center. A Steph Curry turnover with five seconds left allowed the Nuggets to set up a miracle heave from near mid-court, and Nikola Jokic called bank. The Joker finished one rebound shy of another triple-double (34 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds), but that last 3 was a heartbreaker in the Bay. If you watch one highlight today, this is it.

 Watch: Nikola Jokic Caps Nuggets Rally With 40-Foot Game-Winner

Bonus Highlight: Rim-Rocking Tall Guys

Giannis Spoils Wemby’s Birthday

In what would have been today’s NBA feature (had Jokic not stepped in), Victor Wembanyama (Spurs) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) went head-to-head for the first time ever in a battle of freakishly tall European stars. The Greek 7-foot Giannis (44 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists) had a monster game on the stat sheet, but the French 7-foot-4 Wemby (27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks) was a one-man highlight reel on his 20th birthday. The Bucks got the win in a rim-rocking dunk contest (125-121).

Editor’s Warning: This highlight reel might make you believe in aliens…



 NHL: Panthers Pounce on Vegas for 6th Straight

The Panthers won their sixth straight on Thursday with a takedown of the Golden Knights (4-1), and they’re suddenly the hottest team in hockey. Florida’s six-game win streak has included two wins against the defending champs, and all six opponents had winning records.

 PGA: Sahith Theegala (-9) Leads Sentry

The opening event of 2024 for the PGA Tour saw Sahith Theegala (-9) go low in Round 1 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Sungjae Im (-8), Collin Morikawa (-8), Jason Day (-8) and Viktor Hovland (-8) are in hot pursuit. Scottie Scheffler (-7) also piped a 420-yard drive on Day 1.

 MCBB: #10 Arizona Throttles Colorado by 47

Arizona men’s team had a rough spell over the holiday break with three losses in five games, but the former No. 1 Wildcats righted the ship on Thursday. ‘Zona absolutely obliterated Colorado (an 11-2 team with a similar record) by nearly 50 points (97-50). Actor Adam Sandler was in attendance for a little pre-game warm-up, too.

 WCBB: #3 NC State Dodges #22 FSU (88-80, OT)

NC State survived a 4th-quarter comeback and overtime to hold off Florida State and maintain their perfect season (14-0). The Wolfpack had five players in double figures. River Baldwin led the way with 21 points and 8 rebounds.



 NBA All-Star Voting Returns

The NBA revealed the first returns of all-star voting on Thursday, and they’ll provide updates twice more in January before announcing starters. Giannis Antetokounmpo (East) and LeBron James (West) lead the votes. (Sporting News)

 NHL All-Star Rosters Announced

The initial list of 32 NHL All-Stars (one per team) was revealed last night with an additional 12 players (eight skaters and four goalies) yet to be named via fan vote. Connor Bedard became the youngest All-Star ever at 18 years old. (ESPN)

 NFL Coordinator Grades

The NFLPA asked players to rate their offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators throughout the season to ensure players’ voices are heard ahead of the hiring cycle. The results were published on Thursday. (Yahoo! Sports)





The Weekend Must-Watch List

It’s the playoffs before the playoffs in the NFL! We’ve got a full weekend of must-see sports before previewing next week’s CFP National Championship Game. We’ll recap all the fun on Monday. Enjoy!

 NFL Week 18

Steelers at Ravens (Sat. 4:30 pm)

Texans at Colts (Sat. 8:15 pm)

Vikings at Lions (Sun. 1:00 pm)

Falcons at Saints (Sun. 1:00 pm)

Bears at Packers (Sun. 4:25 pm)

Rams at 49ers (Sun. 4:25 pm)

Bills at Dolphins (Sun. 8:20 pm)

Full Week 18 Schedule


Knicks at 76ers (Fri. 7:30 pm)

Celtics at Pacers (Sat. 7:00 pm)
Clippers at Lakers (Sun. 9:30 pm)

Full NBA Weekend Schedule


Hurricanes at Capitals (Fri. 7:00 pm)

Panthers at Avalanche (Sat. 4:00 pm)

Lightning at Bruins (Sat. 7:00 pm)

Full NHL Weekend Schedule


EPL: Arsenal vs. Liverpool (Sun. 11:30 am)


Sentry Tournament of Champions (All Weekend)

 NCAA Basketball

M: #9 Illinois at #1 Purdue (Fri. 8:30 pm)

M: #8 N. Carolina at #16 Clemson (Sat. Noon)

M: #6 Kentucky at Florida (Sat. 12:30 pm)
W: Miss. State at #1 S. Carolina (Sun. 1:00 pm)

*All Times ET