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Happy Monday. Welcome to the official launch of Sideline Sprint! We’re bringing you the biggest sports news across all leagues, five times a week. Thanks for joining us, and if you like what you see, be sure to share.

In today's Sprint:

  • 🏀   Steph Curry's Career Night
  • 🏈   NFL Playoff Bracket
  • 🏈   Investment Banking to the NFL

NFL

Derri2K Henry

It only took Derrick Henry rushing for over 2,000 yards and a field goal off the upright for the Tennessee Titans to make the playoffs. Let's see who will join them:

AFC

1 Seed: (14-2) Kansas City Chiefs

  • The Chiefs’ backups fell to the LA Chargers 38-21 after Kansas City rested the majority of its starters. Regardless, the AFC’s top seed will receive a bye for the first round of the playoffs.

2 Seed: (13-3) Buffalo Bills

  • Buffalo WR Stefon Diggs (7 rec, 76 yds) looked relaxed during the Bills’ 30 point win over the Miami Dolphins after he flossed on the sideline mid-game. The win knocked Miami out of the playoffs.

3 Seed: (12-4) Pittsburgh Steelers

  • The Steelers’ backups, quarterbacked by Mason Rudolph (315 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT), looked competent in yesterday’s 22-24 loss to the Browns. Pittsburgh will have another shot at Cleveland this weekend in the first round of the playoffs.

4 Seed: (11-5) Tennessee Titans

  • Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (250 yds, 2 TD) feasted on Houston’s rush defense, posting his sixth (!) straight 200-yard rushing game. Henry surpassed 2,000 rush yards on the season in advance of the Titans’ first-round matchup with Baltimore.

5 Seed: (11-5) Baltimore Ravens

  • Baltimore clinched the top AFC Wild Card spot after drubbing Cincinnati 38-3 behind Lamar Jackson (210 total yds, 3 TD’s, 1 INT), who became the first QB to have multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons in NFL history.

6 Seed: (11-5) Cleveland Browns

  • Cleveland ended the NFL’s longest active playoff drought at 18 years. In that time, Browns’ fans suffered through *checks archives* 197 losses, 7 head coaches, and 29 QBs since their last playoff appearance.

7 Seed: (11-5) Indianapolis Colts

  • The Colts earned the AFC’s final playoff spot after handing the Jacksonville Jaguars their 16th straight loss, and helping the Jags tank for projected top overall pick Trevor Lawrence. The Colts will play the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

NFC

1 Seed: (13-3) Green Bay Packers

  • After ending the regular season on a six-game winning streak, the Packers are heading into the playoffs with a first-round bye. QB Aaron Rodgers (240 yds, 4 TD) became the second player to throw for more than 45 touchdowns in multiple seasons after Peyton Manning (2004 and 2013).

2 Seed: (12-4) New Orleans Saints

  • Although there were some complications (i.e. the team’s entire RB corps was out due to COVID-19 exposure), the Saints managed a decisive victory over the Panthers. WR Ty Montgomery put up 105 yards on 18 carries - not bad for playing a different position.

3 Seed: (12-4) Seattle Seahawks

  • Remember the doubt surrounding WR D.K. Metcalf during the 2019 NFL Draft? Well, as of today, he holds the Seahawks franchise record for single-season receiving yards. Fellow WR Tyler Lockett (12 rec, 90 yds, 2 TD) also set the franchise record for single-season receptions in the Seahawks’ 26-23 win over the 49ers.

4 Seed: (7-9) Washington Football Team

  • Riverboat Ron is playoff-bound after his first season at the helm of the Washington Football team, but it didn't come without drama. Led by Alex Smith (162 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT), the WFT narrowly beat an Eagles team that appeared to be trying to lose the game.

5 Seed: (11-5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Tom Brady and the Bucs capped off the season with a 44-27 win over the Falcons. However, Bucs star WR Mike Evans (3 rec, 46 yds) was carted off the field late in the first quarter with an apparent left knee injury. Head Coach Bruce Arians is optimistic, but we’ll know more about Evans’ status soon.

6 Seed: (10-6) LA Rams

  • Rams QB John Wolford came to play in his NFL debut. Filling in for Jared Goff, Wolford had 231 yards in the air and 56 on the ground as the Rams knocked off the Cardinals 18-7. Fun fact - until recently, Wolford was a private equity analyst.

7 Seed: (8-8) Chicago Bears

  • Not a great day for the Bears, as they finished the season with a loss to the Packers. RB David Montgomery (22 car, 69 yds) had the team’s lone touchdown in the first quarter. The Bears will take on the Saints in the first round.

WATER COOLER TALK
  • 🏈   Several NFL teams are expected to move on from their starting quarterbacks, including New England’s Cam Newton, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, and San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s a tough time of the year for veteran signal-callers.
  • 🏀   Seven members of the LA Clippers staff will quarantine after one tested positive for COVID-19 following a New Year’s Eve event with periodic mask-wearing.
  • 🏈   New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees is expected to retire after this season.
  • 🏈   The New York Jets fired head coach Adam Gase after two seasons at the helm. There is debate as to if the firing comes as a result of his abysmal record or his inability to tank for the first overall pick in the 2021 draft.
  • 🏈   The Texas Longhorns fired HC Tom Herman. The team announced current Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian as its next head coach.

BASKETBALL

Chef Curry's Career Night

While the NFL regular season wraps up and the college football bowl season comes to an end, basketball is here to fill the void — and Stephen Curry balled out for your entertainment. And his revenge.

NBA

(4-3) Boston Celtics 122 vs. (1-5) Detroit Pistons 120

  • Jayson Tatum (24 pts, 8 reb, 12 ast) hit the game-winner over veteran Blake Griffin with 2.9 seconds left in the game. The Pistons have not been firing on all cylinders early this season, but managed to split the weekend series with Boston.

(2-5) Washington Wizards 123 vs. (3-4) Brooklyn Nets 122

  • The Wizards held off Brooklyn in a nailbiter. Bradley Beal (27 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) and Russell Westbrook (24 pts, 5 reb, 10 ast) led the Wizards, but it was the Nets’ Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s inability to knock down shots in the closing seconds that cost them the game.

(3-3) Golden State Warriors 137 vs (3-3) Portland Trail Blazers 122

  • Steph Curry (62 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast) came to remind you why he was the league's first unanimous MVP as the Warriors showed shades of the offensive juggernaut they were a few years ago.

NCAA

(10-2) #21 Minnesota 77 vs. (8-3) #25 Ohio State 60

  • Minnesota was in control nearly the entire way thanks to Liam Robbins (27 pts, 14 reb, 4 ast), who continued his hot start to the season. The Big10 conference currently has a record nine teams in the AP Top 25 Poll.

(9-0) #16 Michigan 85 vs. (6-3) #19 Northwestern 66

  • Michigan won comfortably thanks to stellar 3-pt shooting (44.4%) and lockdown defense, holding Northwestern to 41% from the field. The same two schools’ women teams played and produced a similar result, with the Michigan women beating Northwestern 84-63.

TRIVIA
Which NFL team went to four consecutive Super Bowls, only to lose every single one of them?
  1. New England Patriots
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Miami Dolphins

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TRIVIA ANSWER
C. Buffalo Bills (1990 - 1993)