Here at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState, we are sorting through stacks upon stacks detailing the Sunday that was in sports. It was quite a day.
We start with the NFL and a final regular-season weekend that should have been set to “Yakety Sax” by Boots Randolph, or as many of us old-timers prefer to remember it, the music used by Benny Hill. First, the Indianapolis Colts made the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars look like the 1985 Chicago Bears reincarnated, thoroughly outplayed in all areas en route to a 26-11 loss that effectively took them out of the playoffs. This became official when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens in overtime 16-13, thus postponing Ben Roethlisberger's retirement party by at least one weekend. The table was now set for the Steelers to squeak into the playoffs provided the Los Angeles Squatters … er, Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders didn't end their game in a tie. Which they did everything imaginable to do, a result which would have secured a playoff spot for both teams. However, the Raiders spoiled the Chargers' day (and ended their season) by kicking a 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime.
Thus, the first weekend of NFL playoffs are set. This Saturday, the Raiders travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals, followed by the New England Patriots shuffling off to Buffalo to play the Bills for the third time this season. The teams split their two regular-season games, with the visiting team winning each time. The game will start at 8:15 PM Eastern time, so it should be balmy. Or not.
Sunday the 16th will have three games, starting with the Philadelphia Eagles flying south to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Next up will be the San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, which at least on paper is the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. Sunday night will have the Steelers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs. Finally, there will be a game Monday night, with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Arizona Cardinals. Like the Patriots and Bills, this will be the third meeting of these division rivals; also like New England and Buffalo, the teams split the season series with the visiting team winning both games. A deeper dive into the games and fearless, albeit not guaranteed unflawed predictions later in the week.
Meanwhile, the NBA had some good news for once, as for the first time in 941 days the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson stepped onto a court during a game. His stats were good — 17 points in nearly 20 minutes played, including three three-pointers. What mattered the most was he looked like himself, not a hobbled version which after first tearing an ACL and then an Achilles tendon was the fear. With the Splash Brothers (Thompson and Steph Curry) reunited and a solid core of youth and veteran players alongside, the Warriors are set to make life miserable for everyone else in the league.