Ryan Mayer

The holidays are a time for spending time with family and friends and enjoying their company, right? Okay, that’s what the greeting card companies say at least, but, if you’re not super into discussing your love life for the millionth time with your family (no grandma, I don’t have a girlfriend. No, I don’t want you to set me up with your friend’s granddaughter), then you likely need an excuse to get away and spend some alone time.

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If you need an excuse to get away from the family, simply can’t go a full 24 hours without watching something sports-related, or, if you don’t feel like watching “A Christmas Story” on endless loop on Christmas (don’t know why you wouldn’t, it’s a classic!), then you’re in luck! This viewing guide will help you get through the holiday weekend with plenty of entertainment to spare.

**All Times EST

Friday, December 23rd

1 p.m. Popeyes Bahamas Bowl- Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (ESPN)

You may be looking at this doing a double-take asking “why in the hell would I watch that?” Well, dear reader, one big reason: lots and lots of points. Consider that neither team has a particularly stingy defense and the fact that the Bahamas Bowl in its first two years of existence has had an average score of 47-39. Yeah, fireworks to be expected. 

4:30 p.m. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl-Louisiana Tech vs. Navy (ESPN)

The Bulldogs feature a 4,000-yard passer and a pair of 1,000 yard receivers going against a Navy defense that is XX against the pass. Meanwhile, the Navy offense is, as usual, like death by a thousand paper cuts as they just grind out three and four-yard chunks until your defense is tired and then they rip off a big play. The teams have combined to average 81.4 points per game this season. Again, offensive fireworks.

Saturday, December 24th

Guess what? The NFL is playing most of its games on Christmas Eve this year save for a few big match-ups! That’s right, that means your favorite team may give you the chance to get out of debating the merits of Donald Trump as president with your uncle. Here’s the best of those games.

1 p.m. Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings (FOX)

A heated, at least from a dislike standpoint, NFC North rivalry with possible playoff implications on the line for the two teams to start your Saturday viewing. The Packers, after their Week 15 win over the Bears, find themselves sitting at 8-6 on the season, one game back of Detroit and one ahead of the Vikings for second place in the NFC North. Both teams remain in the Wild Card hunt and this game could determine which team gets knocked out. Grab yourself some of mom’s homemade cookies and settle in.

4:05 p.m. Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders (CBS)

The Colts playoff hopes are slipping away sure, but tell me you don’t want to watch Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton against a Raiders defense that has been downright bad this season? No? Okay, how about what Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray are likely to do against a porous Colts defense? Yeah, now I have your attention. This could be a fireworks display and it features two of the best young QB’s in the game. Also, it’s the best game in this time slot unless 49ers-Rams, Seahawks-Cardinals, or Bucs-Saints tickles your fancy. 

Sunday, December 25th

After you’ve opened your presents or coal (hey, I don’t judge, we all have off years) from Santa in the morning, Christmas Day has plenty of sports treats in store for you courtesy of the NBA and the NFL. Let’s unwrap a few shall we? 

12:00 p.m. Boston Celtics at New York Knicks (ESPN)

The Knicks have been kind of fun to watch this year right? It’s a mish-mash of old, talented, oft-injured guys, and young scrappy players, with a unicorn (Kristaps Porzingis) thrown in. The Celtics on the other hand, have underachieved expectations so far, but Isaiah Thomas is always fun to watch and seeing Al Horford try to body Porzingis should make for entertaining TV. Plus, you can half-watch this game while eating Christmas brunch. 

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2:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors @ Cleveland Cavaliers (ABC)

Awwwwww yeah. Strap in for the good stuff ladies and gents. A Finals rematch featuring the Monstars (Warriors) vs. well, the other Monstars. Let’s be real. These two “superteams” are ridiculously fun to watch. Athleticism all over the place, Curry, Durant and Thompson heat checks, Draymond punching people in bad places, LeBron doing LeBron things…..whew. Sorry, it’s exciting. These teams are a lot of fun to watch and the whole 3-1 lead thing adds a bit more fire to the regular season affairs. If you’re not excited for this game, I really don’t think you have a pulse. You may have overstuffed yourself on cookies. 

4:30 p.m. Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (CBS)

Now, we head out to the gridiron for the AFC North rivalry with the division on the line. Ravens-Steelers is always fun in a “these two are going to try and physically beat each other up” for three hours kind of way. Plus, there’s an excellent Ravens defense trying to shut down the Steelers triplets of Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown. What more convincing do you need? Grab a plate of Christmas ham, pull up a seat on the couch and enjoy some football. 

8:30 p.m. Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (NBC)

Von Miller, Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, Marcus Peters, Justin Houston, Dee Ford, yeah, this game is littered with defensive star power. Plus, the last time these two teams met up, we were treated to a second half/overtime for the ages that eventually led to the Chiefs picking up an OT win. Now, back in the primetime slot again these two teams have a chance to impress once more.

10:00 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers (ESPN)

The Lakers are actually fun to watch this season. Under Luke Walton, they’ve found a more flowing, free-wheeling style with a fully unleashed D’Angelo Russell running things. They match up with their arena-mates who are always good for a couple of highlight dunks/alley-oops a night. If you’re still too jacked up from all the presents you received or sugar you partook in after dinner, grab yourself a cold one and settle in for some West Coast basketball action. 

Monday, December 26th

If you have off on the Monday following Christmas, congrats! If you’re a sports fan looking for things to watch, well, you’d better like college football. Because that’s pretty much your only option on this day. 

11:00 a.m. St. Petersburg Bowl- Miami, OH vs. Mississippi State (ESPN)

This is actually an interesting story for the Redhawks. They started 0-6 before winning six straight to become bowl eligible and now they face Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs who are continuing to groom their young quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. It may not be the best football, but hey, it’s football. 

2:30 p.m. Quick Lane Bowl- Maryland vs. Boston College (ESPN)

That last thing I said about the bowl above? Yeah, that’s true for this game too. Neither team has been particularly effective on offense this year (in fact Boston College has been downright dreadful), but, if you need something on in the background while you sadly start packing up the Christmas decorations, this will work. 

5:00 p.m. Camping World Independence Bowl- NC State vs. Vanderbilt (ESPN2)

The final bowl match-up of the day is the most interesting. Vandy brings a dominant defense led by star linebacker Zach Cunningham, along with a pounding running game. The Wolfpack has one of the more proficient passing attacks in the country ranking 37th while putting up 262.3 yards per game through the air. Wolfpack QB Ryan Finley along with stud running back Matt Dayes squaring off with a tough Commodores defense? Yeah, this one should be fun. 

8:30 p.m. Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys (ESPN)

This is actually a really fun Monday Night Football match-up which is something that has been rare in the past couple of years. The Lions and Cowboys both lead their respective divisions and they meet in Big D for the first time since the controversial Wild Card game in 2014. Stafford and company got roughed up by the Giants in Week 15 while the Cowboys got back on track against the Bucs. This is a great way to end the holiday weekend and set you up for a short work week. 

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