If you like Boston sports—and I do—this promises to be a fun week of TV action, with the week bookended by prime-time Patriots’ games and sequence of Celtics games sandwiched in between, as we take a look at what the coming week in sports offers sports fans.
New England plays Houston tonight in a Monday Night football game of huge consequence in the AFC playoff seeding battle. The Pats-Texans battle was the lead in TheSportsNotebook’s preview of NFL Week 14. Then on Sunday night, it’s another big battle in Foxboro, with the Patriots hosting the San Francisco 49ers. It was billed last night on NBC as a possible Super Bowl preview and the Vegas oddsmakers certainly agree, with these two teams installed as the favorites to be in New Orleans come February.
The NBA action isn’t necessarily highlighted by a Celtics game—that honor would have go to Tuesday night’s New York-Brooklyn game (7 PM ET, ESPN). But when it comes to volume, basketball fans will get a steady dose of green. The Celts host Dallas on Wednesday (8 PM ET, ESPN), travel to Houston on Friday (8 PM ET, ESPN) and then go to San Antonio on Saturday (8:30 PM ET, NBA-TV),
The Eastern Conference is packed up right now in the 4 thru 9 spots, with the Celtics a part of that group. Three other teams that are a part of that pack—Indiana, Chicago and Philadelphia—have seen the early portion of their season dominated by key injuries, and early this week TheSportsNotebook will take a look at all three.
San Antonio has no such problems, riding high at 17-4 and their Saturday night game with Boston caps off a week in which they too get plenty of TV love—we trust Gregg Popovich will play all his starters this time around. The Spurs are at Utah on Wednesday (10:30 PM ET, ESPN) and Portland on Thursday (10:30 PM ET, TNT). They’re in joust with Oklahoam City and Memphis for the top of the Western Conference, and it’s Memphis who will draw some extra attention here at TheSportsNotebook early this week.
College basketball is very quiet—the card during the week is pretty dull, and the best game is a Philadelphia street fight between St. Joe’s and Villanova on Tuesday (7 PM ET, ESPNU). That will work with TheSportsNotebook’s plans to take a closer look at the Atlantic 10, of which St. Joe’s is a leading contender.
As the week goes on we’ll also check in on the Mountain West and other top mid-majors, including Gonzaga. The Zags are in the Top 10 and my Monday podcasting colleague Greg DePalma over at Prime Sports Network believes this is Mark Few’s best team. I’ll be on with Greg at 4 PM ET today, he’s on throughout the week, I’ll have a midmajor preview highlighted by Gonzaga up later in the week—or your best option might just be to ignore us and watch Gonzaga for yourself on Saturday night against Kansas State (9 PM ET, ESPN2). Actually that makes too much sense, forget I brought it up.
Saturday will be a decent day of college sports—both bowls and buckets, though it’s nothing so spectacular that you can’t get some Christmas shopping in if need be. The state of Indiana hits the floor on the hardwood with IU-Butler & Purdue-Notre Dame on a CBS doubleheader starting at 2 PM ET. Michigan and head coach John Beilein host the latter’s former school at 8 PM ET on ESPN. Earlier in the day it’s Texas A&M-Oklahoma (2 PM ET, ESPN) in a game that can whet both fan bases’ appetite for the Cotton Bowl when they play each other in football. The best game of the day is a late show, with Florida-Arizona at 10 PM ET on ESPN. Late last week, both of these teams were the subject of features here at TheSportsNotebook, as we looked at the contenders in the SEC & Pac-12.
The college bowl schedule has a quiet Saturday warmup with Nevada-Arizona and Toledo-Utah State in an ESPN doubleheader starting at 1 PM ET. TheSportsNotebook will briefly preview each game later this week. Then the bowls go quiet for a few days until resuming on December 20. Be sure and check out the complete bowl schedule and comments that was published here the day after the matchups were announced.
Finally we come full circle to the NFL. The Thursday fare isn’t bad—Cincinnati-Philadelphia (8:20 PM ET, NFL) as the Eagles showed some signs of life on Sunday, while the Bengals still showed they can blow an opportunity as well as anyone. Cincy came back to the back in a crowded AFC playoff picture that will be a prime topic in TheSportsNotebook’s NFL playoff projections that will publish on Tuesday. Sunday’s late afternoon feature is also a part of that AFC playoff mix—it’s Pittsburgh-Dallas (4:25 PM ET, CBS).
But the best football of the week comes early on Sunday afternoon. Fox has a a great NFC tandem of NY Giants-Atlanta and Green Bay-Chicago, while CBS has the same in the AFC, as we’ve got Denver-Baltimore and Indianapolis-Houston. Unfortunately, with all these games in the same time slot, our viewing options are limited—even more so if you have a local team playing then.
But take heart—at least we’ve got the Jets-Titans to cap it off on Monday Night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN). I just feel like the Jets’ quarterback situation has slid under the media radar and now’s the time to give it some attention (I trust sarcasm comes through online).
Everybody enjoy the week. TheSportsNotebook will be freshened up each day, so be sure and stop back. We’re also adding to the historical collection of articles here each week, with the current focus being under-the-radar historical stories. There’s also a complete collection celebrating the cities who had great sports years.