Last week in sports: 12/28 through 1/3


Nam Y. Huh | Associated Press

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers drops back to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Chicago.

By Kyle Mathas

DeKalb — Whether it was a wild Week 17 or the NIU men’s basketball team letting Head Coach Mark Montgomery go, this week has been action-packed in the sports world.



In Week 17, there were key games in what the playoff picture would look like for the NFL playoffs. The Buffalo Bills defeated the Miami Dolphins, which clinched the second seed for the Bills and eliminated the Dolphins from playoff contention. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, which clinched a playoff berth for the Ravens. 

The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, putting the Browns in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys, which eliminated the Cowboys from playoff contention. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears, which allowed the Packers to clinch the top seed and first round bye in the NFC playoffs. The Bears would have been out of the playoffs had it not been for the Los Angeles Rams defeating the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention, allowing  the Rams and Bears to advance and play in the playoffs this weekend.

Chicago Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky and teammate walk off the field after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Chicago. The Packers won 35-16. (Nam Y. Huh | Associated Press)

The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, which put the Colts into the playoffs, and the Jaguars clinched the number one pick in the NFL draft. The Tennessee Titans defeated the Houston Texans on a game-winning field goal, which helped the Titans win the AFC South Division and advance to the playoffs as well. 

The Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers, and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers. The Saints clinched the second seed in the NFC playoffs, and the Seahawks clinched the third seed in the NFC. 

On Sunday Night Football, the Washington Football Team took down the Philadelphia Eagles in order to clinch the final playoff spot in the NFC playoffs. The New York Giants were eliminated from playoff contention after Washington won the game. 

Some other news around the NFL is that the New York Jets fired head Coach Adam Gase after the team finished with a 2-14 record. 



In the NBA this week, the Chicago Bulls got two wins in a row over the Washington Wizards. Bulls guard Zach Lavine leads the team in points with 22.2 points per game. 

The Denver Nuggets have started 1-4 on the season after making it to the Western Conference Finals just a season ago, and the Phoenix Suns lead the Western Conference with a record of 5-1. 

In the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers lead the conference with a 5-1 record, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks are all in playoff spots so far. All three franchises have missed the NBA Playoffs at least the two previous seasons.

It is still too early in the season to call who will have a chance to make the playoffs this year.

Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee, right, pours water over the head of guard Stephen Curry (30) while celebrating Curry’s career-high 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers in an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (Tony Avelar | Associated Press)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored a career-high 62 points in the win over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday. 


NCAA Football

There were multiple New Year Six bowl games this week in college football. In the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, the University of Oklahoma defeated the University of Florida in a blowout. In the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, the University of Georgia defeated the University of Cincinnati, which gave Cincinnati their first loss of the season. In the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, Iowa State University defeated the University of Oregon, and in the Capital One Orange Bowl Texas A&M University defeated the University of North Carolina. 

In the College Football Playoffs, the University of Alabama defeated the University of Notre Dame. Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones threw for almost 300 yards, and senior running back Najee Harris ran for over 100 yards. 

Ohio State University defeated Clemson University in the second playoff game, with Ohio State junior quarterback Justin Fields throwing for 385 yards. Clemson junior quarterback Trevor Lawerence threw for 400 yards passing.

The National Championship game will be played on Monday in Miami, FL. The game will be played between Ohio State and Alabama. 


NCAA men’s basketball

Some of the big games that occurred over the past week have shaped the landscape of college basketball. The University of Minnesota has won two ranked games this week over Michigan State University and Ohio State University. The University of Texas defeated the University of Kansas in a top-10 matchup Saturday, and the University of Tennessee pulled off a big win over the University of Missouri on Wednesday. 

Some big upsets for this week was the University of Maryland taking down the sixth-ranked University of Wisconsin. The University of Oklahoma upset ninth-ranked University of West Virginia, and the University of Tulsa defeated fifth-ranked University of Houston. Also, Alabama took down seventh-ranked University of Tennessee. 

NIU lost another game to Bowling Green State University dropping them to 1-7 on the season. The men’s basketball team reportedly let coach Montgomery go Sunday following the loss to BGSU Saturday. The team starts its national search for a new head coach. Lamar Chapman will serve as interim head coach.


NCAA women’s basketball

The biggest game of the week was top-ranked University of Stanford defeating sixth-ranked University of Arizona, keeping them  undefeated on the season. 

NIU defeated Western Michigan University Saturday with sophomore guard Chelby Koker leading the scoring with 21 points.  


Upcoming NFL Playoffs

In the AFC playoffs, the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the first round bye even with their loss Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Colts will play the Bills, the Browns will play the Steelers and the Ravens will play the Titans.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Kansas City. (Charlie Riedel | Associated Press)

In the NFC playoffs, the Bears will play the Saints, the Rams will play the Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Football Team. 

Wild card games will be Saturday and Sunday. 


Upcoming NCAA men’s basketball

In college basketball this week are some top-25 matchups. Rutgers University will take on Michigan State Tuesday. Minnesota will take on the University of Michigan, and Seton Hall University will take on the University of Creighton Wednesday. 

In a top-10 matchup, Texas will take on West Virginia Saturday, and Minnesota will take on the University of Iowa Sunday. 

The Huskies will play Ohio University in Athens, OH 5 p.m. Tuesday. Then, the Huskies will travel to Miami, OH to take on the University of Miami–Ohio 5 p.m. Saturday.