NFL: DEC 04 Chiefs at Bengals
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The Football Five 🏈

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


The Bengals did something no other team has done in an impressive, 27-24 win over the Chiefs. Cincy is now the only team to beat Mahomes three times in his career (including playoffs), and all three have come in the 2022 calendar year: Week 17 last season, last season's AFC Championship and now again Sunday.

Here's how:

  • Joe Burrow threw touchdowns to Tee Higgins and Chris Evans and ran for one of his own, Samaje Perine had 155 yards from scrimmage with Joe Mixon (concussion) out and Ja'Marr Chase had 97 receiving yards after missing over a month with a hip injury.
  • Patrick Mahomes had season-lows in passing yards (223) and completions (16) and tied his season-low with just one touchdown. The Bengals did a great job on him and on his favorite target, Travis Kelce (four receptions, 56 yards, lost fumble).
  • The Chiefs' five-game winning streak came to a close, while the Bengals pushed their own winning streak to four.

What I liked most was that Cincinnati closed it out in a fashion many teams aren't willing to try: with a 10-play, 39-yard drive that included two 3rd-downs converted by Burrow's right arm. So many teams get conservative and simply try to run clock, even against the Chiefs, who can score in the blink of an eye.

Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor rightfully showed trust in Burrow, and the Bengals, in turn, showed they belong in the conversation among the league's best.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...

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Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens slowly but surely improved their BBWAA Hall of Fame voting percentage during their 10-year stay on the ballot. It seems like they're going to need a lot more help to make it in through the Contemporary Era Committee.

Both Bonds and Clemens failed to even receive four votes from the 16-member panel.

  • Bonds received about 36% of the BBWAA vote in his first appearance, in 2013, and 66% in his final appearance, in 2022.
  • Clemens had a similar climb, from about 38% in 2013 to 65% in 2022.

The Contemporary Era Committee includes Hall of Famers, MLB executives and media, and it's clear that it does not look as kindly upon Bonds and Clemens as the BBWAA did -- at least for now. The next time contemporary era players can be considered is in 2025, for the 2026 class.

Not so honorable mentions

  • Trae Young missed the Hawks' game against the Nuggets due to a disagreement with coach Nate McMillan.

Jimmy Garoppolo's season ends with broken foot; Lamar Jackson also injured 🏈

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The 49ers earned an impressive win but suffered an enormous loss. Jimmy Garoppolo is done for the season after breaking his left foot on the first drive of San Francisco's eventual 33-17 victory over the Dolphins.

  • Brock Purdy -- the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft -- performed admirably in his first extended action, tossing touchdowns to Christian McCaffrey and Kyle Juszczyk.
  • Still, there's no doubt this is a massive loss for the 49ers, who saw Week 1 starting quarterback Trey Lance's season end in Week 2 with a broken ankle.
  • While quarterback wins are far from a perfect stat, the 49ers have shown they can win at a high level with Garoppolo (42-19 as 49ers' starter), and he posted career-bests as a starter in touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating this season. With his injury, suddenly, Mr. Irrelevant has become very relevant for the NFC West leaders, and they also signed veteran journeyman Josh Johnson off the Broncos' practice squad.

In quarterback injury news elsewhere, Lamar Jackson suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of Baltimore's eventual 10-9 victory over the Broncos and did not return.

  • Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said Jackson's injury is "days to weeks" but not season-ending
  • After struggling to get much going, Tyler Huntley came through with a game-winning rushing touchdown with 28 seconds left. It was a huge win for Baltimore, which stays atop the AFC North.

The Ravens' upcoming schedule -- Steelers, Browns, Falcons, Steelers -- is manageable, but a Week 18 contest against the Bengals looms large.

College Football Playoff: Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State make field 🏈

Graphic by Keytron Jordan

For one game, Ohio State fans became the world's biggest Utah fans, and the Utes came through for Buckeye faithful with a 47-24 Pac-12 Championship win over then-No. 4 USC. The loss pushed the Trojans out of the top four and allowed the Buckeyes to sneak into the playoff field as the only change from last week's rankings.

Here's the College Football Playoff layout:

  • Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU | Dec. 31, 4 p.m.
  • Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State | Dec. 31, 8 p.m.
  • CFP Championship: MICH/TCU vs. UGA/OSU | Jan. 9

The Buckeyes weren't the only nervous team during Sunday's selection show. TCU fell, 31-28 in overtime, in the Big 12 Championship against then-No. 10 Kansas State. The Horned Frogs were rewarded for an impressive overall résumé, though, and didn't fall in the rankings at all.

And despite the loss, TCU quarterback Max Duggan made an inspiring Heisman case, writes college football reporter Shehan Jeyarajah.

Things were far less stressful for the top two seeds, Georgia and Michigan. The Bulldogs thumped then-No. 14 LSU, 50-30, and Dennis Dodd says Georgia is college football's only dominant team. Michigan, of course, hopes to have something to say about that, and the Wolverines were plenty impressive themselves in a 43-22 romp over Purdue. The Bulldogs and Wolverines are early CFB semifinal betting favorites.

As for everything else...

World Cup recap: What's next for eliminated USMNT? ⚽

Netherlands v USA: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
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The United States men's national team fell to the Netherlands, 3-1, on Saturday morning, ending its time at the World Cup. After Memphis Depay and Daley Blind put the Netherlands up 2-0, Haji Wright got one back for the USA, but Denzel Dumfries restored the two-goal margin shortly thereafter.

The USMNT was one of the youngest teams at the World Cup, and there should be plenty of momentum for the 2026 World Cup, which the USA will host along with Canada and Mexico. But a big question will be whether Gregg Berhalter should remain the team's coach.

Here's what analyst Grant Wahl says in his latest mailbag:

  • Wahl: "If I were in charge, I would probably hire a new coach. That's no knock on Berhalter. It's just that I don't think it's smart to keep national team coaches for more than one cycle. The history shows that performance tends to dip in the second cycle. ... Even if Berhalter is a candidate, I think U.S. Soccer should interview him and others for the job moving forward. Find out if Jesse Marsch is interested in interviewing. Look into Jogi Loew. See if there are any other prominent coaches who might be interested. This is an important decision."

No matter who the coach is going forward, the USA will need better depth for a deep run in 2026, writes soccer expert Chuck Booth.

As for the other matches over the weekend:

Jacob deGrom signs with Rangers, plus what to expect at Winter Meetings ⚾

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Just days before the Winter Meetings begin, the Rangers made yet another huge offseason splash by signing Jacob deGrom to a five-year, $185-million deal. DeGrom, 34, was rated as our second-best free agent this year. The two-time Cy Young award winner is magnificent when healthy but has made just 26 starts over the past two seasons. He's dealt with shoulder, elbow, forearm, side and back ailments.

Perhaps the Mets will be able to answer those questions during Winter Meetings, which began Sunday. But all eyes will be on the star of the other New York team -- Aaron Judge -- and where he signs (if anywhere) in the coming days.

You can see all the top storylines here.

What we're watching Monday 📺

We're watching the World Cup. Here's the schedule.
🏈 Saints at Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Suns at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. on NBA TV