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With all those Week 18 thrills and their ramifications, we almost forgot that Alabama and Georgia face off in the College Football Championship at 8 p.m. ET. Anyway, back to the NFL fallout…

Plot Twist in Miami

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Black Monday cut a wide swath through the NFL, with three coaches and two general managers on the outs — but few would’ve imagined the list would include Brian Flores.

The Dolphins relieved Flores of his coaching duties after three seasons in which Miami went 24-25 and failed to make the playoffs — a move that would seem reasonable if he hadn’t just presided over this season’s historic turnaround.  

Miami became the first team in NFL history to lose seven straight games and then win seven straight in the same season, a strange asterisk on an ultimately disappointing campaign that could make Flores a hot commodity this offseason.

  • The Dolphins went 8-1 in their last nine games — the fourth team ever to win eight-plus of their last nine games and then fire their coach, per Elias Sports Bureau.
  • He’s only the fourth Dolphins coach with two winning seasons in his first three years.
  • But Miami finished the season 22nd overall in points per game (20.1) and tied for 15th in points allowed per game (21.9)

After a stint as linebackers coach for the Patriots, the 40-year-old signed a five-year contract in 2019 worth a reported $3 million per season — one of the lowest yearly salaries in the NFL.

Now, Flores’ price should rise if he manages to land one of the five current openings. On Monday, the Bears fired Matt Nagy, while the Vikings sent Mike Zimmer packing — joining the Broncos, Jaguars, and Raiders in the search for a new head coach.

Still Klay

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors were already the best team in the NBA — and they got a whole lot better Sunday with the long-awaited return of five-time All-Star Klay Thompson.

Thompson looked impressive in the Warriors’ 14-point victory over the Cavs, finishing with 17 points in 20 minutes — including an explosive crossover, drive, and one-handed slam at the rim — that reminded Golden State fans what they’ve been missing the past two seasons thanks to ACL and Achilles injuries.

If Thompson can return to form, the Warriors could reclaim their derailed dynasty on the shoulders of a revitalized Splash Brothers.

  • The last season he played (2018-19), the Warriors won 57 regular-season games — in two years without him, they’re 54-83 and have missed the postseason each season. 
  • On Sunday, Thompson became the second-fastest to make 1,800 threes (615 games) in NBA history, behind teammate Steph Curry (545).
  • Golden State already has the best defensive rating (101.9) and net rating (8.9) in the NBA — and Thompson made the All-Defensive team in 2018-19.

Klay is the second-highest-paid player on the Warriors after Curry — earning $121.8 million over the next three seasons. He and Curry will make a combined $83.8 million this season — almost half (46.7%) of Golden State’s league-high $178.9 million payroll.

The Warriors (+475*) have the second-best odds to win the title after Brooklyn (+245*) — a situation that could quickly flip if Klay can keep splashing.

Dark-Horse Niners

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The first 17th regular-season NFL game provided plenty of drama for three franchises, as the Steelers, 49ers, and Raiders all won in overtime to clinch playoff berths in the season’s final week — the first time that’s ever happened. 

But just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the Niners are looking like the most dangerous of the late postseason arrivals.

Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Rams — a team they’ve beaten six straight times — was nevertheless an extraordinarily improbable one.

  • After punting with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, SF overcame the lowest win probability (0.4%) in the Next Gen Stats era. 
  • The 17-point comeback is tied for the largest in a season finale to clinch a playoff berth since 1990. 
  • It was Sean McVay’s first loss as L.A.’s head coach after leading at halftime. 

Much-maligned QB Jimmy Garoppolo made his case to remain the team’s starter, going 23-for-32 for 316 yards and a touchdown while playing with a torn ligament in his thumb. 

The 30-year-old is in the fourth season of a five-year, $137.5 million contract — the most lucrative by annual value in NFL history at the time of signing — but his volatile play led the Niners to draft Trey Lance third overall last spring for insurance.

The Niners are three-point underdogs* against the red-hot Cowboys in this weekend’s Wild Card Game — but if they can sustain Sunday’s magic, all bets are off.

Making Headlines

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Tennis: After an Australian judge overturned the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa, the world No. 1 said he remains focused on playing in the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 17.

NFL: Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman announced his retirement on Monday, ending a tumultuous four-year run in New York. The team went 19-46 during his tenure. 

MLB: Rachel Balkovec was named manager of the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate Tampa Tarpons, making her the first female manager in MiLB history. 

NCAAF: North Dakota State won its ninth FCS Championship in 11 years with a 38-10 win over Montana State. Also: USC quarterback Jaxson Dart announced he has entered the transfer portal.

Today's Action

*All times are EST unless otherwise noted.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

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