Christmas Day Sports


Photo credit: Getty Images

Ryan Witt, Sports Editor

Christmas basketball is always a celebrated aspect of Christmas Day. However, with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, fans will enjoy basketball and football together! While most NFL teams are playing their games on Saturday, there are still three matchups taking place on December 25. The NBA decided to one-up the NFL by having five games on Christmas Day, most of which being high-profile matchups against outstanding teams and players going at it. For a nice cherry on top, there are even college sports being thrown into the Christmas Day mix this year. This mix-up of sports will leave everyone satisfied, as the action will begin as early as noon and run past midnight into December 26.

While it is technically Christmas Eve, I figured I would quickly mention the Hawaii Bowl between Middle Tennessee and San Diego State, which will begin at 8 PM on Christmas Eve. The game will end an hour or so before Christmas Day, which is close enough to be discussed. It is a lower-stake bowl game, but still contains a pretty even matchup that should be fun to watch. On the basketball side, DePaul clashes against Creighton (ranked 21 at the time of writing) at 4:30 PM on Christmas Day. So, even people who favor college over professional sports will get some college sports to watch on Christmas. While Creighton will be the heavy favorite, they’re currently on a five-game losing streak, and college basketball is a place where the unexpected is ordinary.

The NFL on Christmas only happens once every few years, and when it does, it sure gets people excited. However, when the NFL schedule-makers meet before the season to predict which matchups will be great and deserving of national spotlights, they historically get it wrong. They’re not to blame, though, as many of these matchups seemed great before the season started. A lot of the matchups for Christmas day this year are unfortunately not too exciting and may feature several blowouts. There is only one team with a winning record playing this year on Christmas. Hopefully, some of these games will be fun, but they are surely hard to predict.

The first game is at 1 PM, as the Packers fly to Miami to take on the Dolphins. The Packers’ season has been pretty mediocre, as they sit with a record of 5-8. The Dolphins are 8-5 and continue to try and remain on top of the playoff push. The Packers need vintage Aaron Rodgers to try and win this game, but the Dolphins have also been mediocre at times, so who knows who may win this game? The only thing guaranteed is the offensive talent present in this game. The Dolphins have one of the best wide receiver cores in the league and the Packers’ rookie Christian Watson has started to shine too. It seems like this game should either be a game that is way too close or a blowout.

At the conclusion of Packers vs. Dolphins, the 4:30 PM game will kick off as Broncos’ country will take on the Rams at Sofi Stadium. The Broncos have absolutely collapsed this year and only have three wins on the season. Furthermore, Russell Wilson took a huge shot at the end of last week’s Chiefs game. Wilson finally started to get in a stride for one of the few times this season and started to lead a comeback against the ten-win Chiefs. Now, he may be concussed. As one would assume, the Broncos could not finish the comeback against the Chiefs and lost again. Their opponents, the Rams, haven’t been much better. The Rams only have four wins, but new addition Baker Mayfield made a statement in his first game with the Rams, leading a game-winning drive against the Raiders. While beating the Raiders doesn’t mean much, it shows promise for a Mayfield-led Rams offense. These teams likely won’t bring much entertainment, as the two offenses have struggled this season. Fans are left to hope this game won’t end with a 10-7 score.

The last NFL game of the night begins at 8:20 PM, as Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will take on the Cardinals. The Buccaneers have spent much of this season hovering around .500, falling below that threshold after being blown out by the 49ers. Tom Brady has struggled a lot this season, though many factors may be to blame for this: his age, his off-field dilemmas, or whatever else fans would like to believe. The only thing for certain is that he is still Tom Brady, the G.O.A.T. No one can ever count out Tom Brady. The Cardinals only have four wins, even with all the talent on their roster. With QB Kyler Murray’s injury last week, Colt McCoy will try to lead Arizona to a Christmas Day win.

The NBA has dominated the Christmas sports market for a while now. From fun holiday ads, Christmas-themed sneakers, and seemingly a new Christmas Day record being broken every year, NBA Christmas is always a blast. The NBA doesn’t always focus on the matchups themselves being great, rather, the stars always tend to get scheduled to play on Christmas. This year, fans will have the pleasure of watching stars like Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic, and of course, Lebron James. All of these players are debatably top ten in the MVP race at the time of this article being written. So, one can reasonably infer that fans may witness a 30-point game and a bunch of triple-doubles on Christmas, as every year these stars tend to go off. Kevin Durant has dropped 44, Kyrie Irving has dropped 40, and Wilt Chamberlain even had a game of 59 points and 36 rebounds on Christmas Day. So, let’s look at this year’s matchups.

The first of these five matchups is at noon, as the Joel Embiid-led 76ers will clash against the New York Knicks. The Knicks have spent this season around a .500 record, as have the 76ers. Joel Embiid is a perennial MVP candidate and this season has been no different. However, one could make the argument that the Knicks have more depth than the 76ers, so, the argument for who wins is really up in the air. Most fans would take the 76ers simply because of Embiid. But the Knicks’ backcourt has a slight advantage, which could hurt the 76ers. This game largely comes down to how the Knicks stars play, and whether or not they can outmatch Joel Embiid.

Likely starting before the noon game even concludes, the 2:30 matchup of the Lakers vs. the Mavericks begins. The Lakers have struggled this year, but still have a ton of star power. Lebron James is Lebron, not much to be said there. Anthony Davis has had one of the best seasons of his career, and the rest of the team is mostly solid role players. The Mavericks are pretty similar. Their team mostly runs through Luke Doncic being Luka and surrounding him with solid talent, like Dinwiddie and Christian Wood. Both teams are sitting close to .500 with the Lakers being a bit under that threshold. While the season is still very young, both of these teams need to pick up the pace to make a playoff push. Maybe, this will be the game that sparks it for either team

At 5 PM the Bucks and the Celtics will clash. In the preseason, I wrote an article ranking teams before the season began. I put the Bucks and Celtics in the top three, and not to brag, but they are both in the top three today. It didn’t take a genius to see how great and talented these teams were going into this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on pace to be an all-time great and has continued to dominate, even without his sidekick Khris Middleton for most of the year. The defending Finals runner-ups, the Celtics, kept their core that led them to the Finals and then added to it. This worked perfectly: Tatum is in MVP contention, and Jaylen Brown has become one of, if not the best second options in the league. This game should be a high-scoring and incredibly exciting game to watch. I’ve got the Celtics winning this one, but it could easily go either way.

8 PM will feature two of the best guards in the league, as Ja Morant and the Grizzlies will take on Stephen Curry and the Warriors. The Grizzlies stuck to their young core and they have really started to mesh together. They have become a great team that knows how to win. Morant, the star, has worked his way into MVP contention with his raw athleticism, three-level scoring, and facilitating ability. Morant is able to approach a triple-double every time he steps on the court. Curry, and the Warriors for that matter, have taken a step back this season. While there aren’t any clear problems with the team per se, there is definitely still something wrong. No reason to be concerned, though, as we’re still talking about Stephen Curry. This game will surely be entertaining to watch

The last game of the night is Suns vs. Nuggets, which is weird for several reasons. The Suns and Nuggets haven’t been up to par with what fans were expecting. The Nuggets have been good, but people thought they’d be great. The Suns have been mediocre, though people thought they’d be good. Nonetheless, any time fans get to watch Booker, Chris Paul, and Nikola Jokic on the floor all at once, they’ll be content. This game could definitely swing in either team’s favor simply because of the star power each roster has suiting up. Though, as most people would, I definitely lean towards the Nuggets taking home the victory to end the night.
Christmas Day is always a fun time with presents, family, religion, and sports. Sports are definitely always a great thing to add to the mix of an already great day. Enjoy the day, remember the purpose of the holiday season, and then enjoy all of the quality matchups taking place across several leagues throughout the day.