If the Steelers and Ravens actually play today, they\'ll make NFL history

Create: 2020-12-02
Update: 2020-12-02
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Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Welcome to what might be a nice little action-packed Wednesday, my friend. We are set to have an NFL game on the slate this afternoon -- that still feels so weird to say in the middle of a work week -- plus some Champions League, college basketball and MLS playoffs later today as well. Not bad, huh?
It should be a relatively easy day to distract yourself from everyone posting their year-end Spotify playlists on your timeline, and for that you can be thankful. (FYI, Machine Gun Kelly was my most-listened to song of the year and I feel very weird about it.) Feel free to let me know what your top songs and artists were this year and I'll check 'em out. 
OK, let's get to the goods.
📰 What you need to know
1. Ravens-Steelers on the verge of history 🏈
Nearly a week after it was originally scheduled, the Ravens and Steelers will play their Week 12 game later today ... allegedly. After three postponements and more than 20 COVID-19 cases between the two rosters, who knows if we'll actually make it to kickoff this afternoon. Baltimore did travel to Pittsburgh last night despite having two more positive COVID-19 cases yesterday.
If the game is indeed played, it could be a historic mark for the NFL.
  • It will be the first time the NFL has had at least one game played on all seven days of the week over the course of one season
  • Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday games are common in a normal NFL season, but the NFL has already seen COVID-19 force one Tuesday game (Titans-Bills in Week 5) with another scheduled for next week (Ravens-Cowboys)
  • The NFL has only played one Wednesday game since 1950 and it came via the 2012 regular season opener between the Giants and Cowboys (the game was originally scheduled for a Thursday, but was moved so that it didn't conflict with President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention)
  • As part of the league's planned schedule, the Vikings and Saints are set to play a Friday game on Christmas Day later this month
If today's game goes on as planned, it'll check off the rare Wednesday box. After that, all that needs to happen is the Christmas Day game to complete the sweep. At this rate, though, there's certainly no guarantee of that happening.
Experiencing history can be a sort of neat feather in the cap, but it's safe to say we've  already experienced a few too many "historic" moments this year. And I also think it's safe to say that the NFL would have preferred to avoid this sort of unexpected history. 
2. Analyzing the updated College Football Playoff Rankings 🏈
The 2020 college football season is steadily nearing its conclusion, as evidenced by the fact that we now have our second edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings. The new batch of rankings was released last night, and if you were expecting any big changes at the top ... well, better luck next week. 
Here's your new top 10:
  1. Alabama (8-0)
  2. Notre Dame (9-0)
  3. Clemson (8-1)
  4. Ohio State (4-0)
  5. Texas A&M (6-1)
  6. Florida (7-1)
  7. Cincinnati (8-0)
  8. Georgia (6-2)
  9. Iowa State (7-2)
  10. Miami (7-1)
Though things are pretty stagnant -- the top seven remains unchanged -- you might notice that Iowa State has taken a big jump into the top 10. The Cyclones have moved up four spots to No. 9 after their crucial win over my Longhorns this past Friday, and they're likely headed to the Big 12 Championship, where they could face Oklahoma (No. 11 in this week's rankings). 
The biggest storyline in the top four remains Ohio State staying put at No. 4 despite their utter dominance on the field so far this season. The Buckeyes' smaller sample size has kept them behind one-loss Clemson and you have to wonder when the committee will be willing to bump them up if they remain unbeaten. You also have to wonder, given the way things are playing out, if an unexpected cancellation could deal a massive blow to OSU's postseason hopes and/or seeding.
If you're looking for some takes on the new top 25, our Barrett Sallee is here to identify which teams are overrated and underrated in these latest rankings.
3. Takeaways from Champions League matchday 5 ⚽
I hope you didn't miss the first half of UCL's matchday 5 because there were some important results that paint a clearer picture of where teams will be as we head into the final round of the group stage next week, for better or for worse. 
Here are a couple of notable takeaways from yesterday's action:
  • Half of the knockout stage is set: Three more teams (Manchester City, Porto and Liverpool) are officially through to the knockout stage, meaning eight total teams have punched their ticket to the Round of 16. Atletico Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach could have joined them if they had won yesterday, but neither team was able to pick up a victory
  • Inter Milan gets desperation win: As we mentioned yesterday, Inter has had a brutal campaign so far and they absolutely needed a victory to keep their Europa hopes alive. They got a 3-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach, though it didn't come without controversy. Monchengladbach furiously protested a disallowed would-be equalizer that was called off due to offside
  • Real Madrid in trouble: It could have been a big day for Real Madrid but they took a stunning 2-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk, putting them in a precarious spot heading into the final matchday. They're now third in Group B behind Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar ... Real will play Gladbach next week while Shakhtar faces Milan in the final round of the group stage. The Spaniards will be forced to earn more points in Matchday 6 in order to advance
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane was defiant after another tough loss yesterday and it doesn't sound like he plans on resigning anytime soon. That doesn't mean he won't be coaching for his job next week.
Don't forget: Matchday 5 is only half over. We've got plenty more action left in store today (you can find some expert picks right here) and you can stream all of the games on CBS All-Access.
4. Knicks are finally rebuilding the right way 🏀
It seems like the New York Knicks have been stuck in a perpetual state of rebuilding for a few decades now, with very little success or happiness mixed in anywhere along the line. Pretty much everything has been a mess -- the players, their play on the court, the management, the ownership, etc.. 
At this point, it'd be hard to blame anyone for being incredibly pessimistic about anything the Knicks try to do, but there have been some recent indications that the franchise is finally taking the right approach to being relevant again. Our Sam Quinn penned a column yesterday praising Leon Rose and the new Knicks leadership for showing rare patience in the team's rebuilding efforts.
  • Quinn: "Things go wrong in New York when the Knicks hit fast forward, seeking out or retaining big-name players when doing so didn't make sense in the organization's present context. For months, the Leon Rose administration appeared destined to make the same mistakes. The Knicks were linked to Chris Paul ... and Russell Westbrook ... and Victor Oladipo ... and  Gordon Hayward ... Even if they were interested, they set a price and stuck to it. Restraint is a step toward patience ... The sensible approach to having a rebuilding Knicks team is to act like a rebuilding team instead of acting like the Knicks. The former somewhat consistently yields winning basketball. The latter inevitably leads to disaster." 
The Knicks being sensible, responsible and patient? Even in a year as weird and unpredictable as 2020, this is uncomfortably foreign. 
📝 Odds & Ends
  • The Mets have signed reliever Trevor May to a two-year deal
  • Notre Dame clinched an ACC Championship Game berth with the league adjusting its schedule to end the regular season 
  • Kevin Durant is denying all reports that he spoke to James Harden about a possible trade to the Nets
📺 What to watch today
🏈 Ravens vs. Steelers, 3:40 p.m. | PIT -10 | TV: NBC
⚽ Manchester United vs. PSG, 3:00 p.m. | TV: CBS All-Access
🏀 No. 11 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Gonzaga, 7:00 p.m. | GONZAGA -8 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
🏀 No. 8 Michigan State 75, No. 6 Duke 69
Rocket Watts scored 20 points as the Spartans beat the Blue Devils in the Champions Classic.  
💵 Winning wagers: MSU +154, Under (149.5)  
🏀 No. 7 Kansas 65, No. 20 Kentucky 62
Jalen Wilson scored 21 of his career-high 23 points in the second half as the Jayhawks pushed past Kentucky.
💵 Winning wagers: KEN +4, Under (144)    

Mailbag!
You and I have our beloved Horns in common. Care to opine/predict on the Tom Herman situation? Is Texas doing some "Urban planning?" -Mark
As much as I would like to see Tom Herman pack his bags and get out of Austin after this season, I'm not totally sold on it actually happening -- unless they've secured a commitment from a big-name coach such as Meyer. My gut prediction says that Herman hangs on for another year and will truly be coaching for his job in 2021. At this rate, I'd be happy to be wrong. 
After a busy Sunday of any NFL, golf, etc., do you ever kick back in the evening and watch "The Walking Dead" or one of the spinoffs of this series? If so, can you comment on the ones you may like? - Ian
I used to be a devoted "Walking Dead" guy but I got pretty tired of it and jumped off around Season 8. I enjoyed it for quite a while but eventually grew tired of the showrunners writing in circles and using cheap cliffhangers and then not delivering. I gave "Fear The Walking Dead" a shot for a season but wasn't crazy about it and eventually just decided to quit TWD altogether. I don't miss it. 
It might be worth calling out the return of the McRib sandwich - It's been 8 years!!! Are you a McRib guy? -Kevin 
Do you work for McDonald's? Is this a free promo grab? If so, well-played sir. In all honesty, I don't know how to feel about the McRib. I know it's basically mystery cafeteria meat slathered in BBQ sauce, but I remember liking it back in the day. I also remember being an idiot with no taste back in the day, too. I'm going to have to drive myself to the local McD's this week to refresh my memory.
 
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