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Tom Brady went 255 consecutive games without a shutout — the second-longest streak behind Drew Brees’ 304. The Saints ended that streak last night, just as the GOAT’s closest MVP competition clinched a playoff berth…

Rodgers Rising

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

So much for all the off-field turmoil surrounding Aaron Rodgers.

Despite his training camp holdout and vaccine controversy, the Packers became the first team to clinch their division and currently occupy the NFC’s 1-seed. Rodgers threw for 268 yards and three TDs with no interceptions in Sunday’s 31-30 victory over the Ravens. 

This Packers team might represent the 38-year-old’s best — and perhaps final — chance to win a second ring in Green Bay. And this season, the reigning MVP has not only added to his legacy but also overtaken Tom Brady (+175*) as the favorite to win it again (+125*).  

  • Rodgers became the fifth quarterback in NFL history with at least eight seasons of 30-plus TD passes.
  • He tied Brett Favre’s franchise record of 442 TD passes.
  • He leads the league in passer rating (110.4) and interception percentage (0.9).

Rodgers restructured his four-year, $134 million contract to make 2023 a voidable year, suggesting the possibility that 2021 could be his final season in Green Bay.

At 11-3, the Packers are now co-favorites (+450*) with the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl.  

Whether he remains a Packer or not, a second Lombardi trophy would see him top Favre’s single title, while a fourth MVP would top both Favre — and Brady.

NBA’s Replacement Strategy

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

COVID has hit the NBA so bad that Nuggets guard Austin Rivers’ scouting report named his defensive assignment “anonymous.”

He ought to get used to it. The NBA approved a plan that would allow teams to sign one replacement player for every player who tests positive — effective through Jan. 19.

If the pandemic isn’t going anywhere, neither is the league, which not only isn’t shutting down, but has no apparent plans to go back into a 2020-style bubble. 

  • The NBA postponed five games this weekend — three scheduled for Sunday. A total of 31 were postponed last season.
  • As of Sunday afternoon, 71 players remained in health and safety protocols — 50 players entered this past week alone (Dec. 12-19).
  • There are seven teams with at least five players in protocols, led by the Brooklyn Nets, who currently have 10 players sidelined indefinitely.

The depleted rosters open the door for undrafted players, G-Leaguers, and retired players to earn a spot — and for the time being, teams won’t be penalized for it.

This past weekend, the league tacked on an extra $500,000 to Brooklyn’s luxury tax for every replacement player they added. That won’t be the case for the next month.

The NBA’s revenue dropped by 10% to $8.3 billion during the 2019-20 season, when COVID forced them into a playoff bubble in Orlando.

Knights Find Firepower

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Implausible as it might seem, the Golden Knights are back in first place in the Pacific Division for the first time since opening night.

After starting the season 1-4-0, this Knights team is a legitimate threat to take their first Stanley Cup. Vegas has pulled off five wins in a row, including Sunday’s rally for a 4-3 shootout victory over the Islanders.

The Knights are capitalizing on an revitalized offense and renewed confidence in goal.

  • Vegas averages 3.48 goals per game (4th in NHL) behind Chandler Stephenson (9 goals, 21 assists), Reilly Smith (10,14), and Jonathan Marchessault (14,7).
  • The Knights are tied with the Blues with 10 comeback victories this season, including a league-best five in December.
  • After being pulled from a Dec. 8 game against the Stars, goaltender Robin Lehner has reeled off four wins in a row. 

Having fallen in the conference finals the two previous seasons, Vegas hasn’t shied away from spending money to get over the hump. The Knights have the fifth-highest cash payroll in the NHL ($97.7M).

Vegas is now tied with the fourth-best odds (+800) to win it all.

Making Headlines

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Olympics: Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai denied that she was sexually assaulted in a recent interview with Singapore Newspaper. In November, she said a former top Communist Party member had forced her into sex — she abruptly disappeared not long after.

NFL: Browns’ QBs Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum both failed to test out of protocols ahead of Monday’s game against the Raiders. Also: Bucs WR Chris Godwin is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

MLB: The New York Mets hired Buck Showalter as manager for a reported three years.

NBA: Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was formally announced as the next coach of the U.S. Men’s Basketball team.

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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