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This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

Happy 2024, everyone! May your year be full of wins for your favorite teams, fantasy successes and perfect parlays.

Let's get right to it.

🏈 Football Five

  1. The Packers eased past the Vikings33-10. Green Bay now controls its postseason destiny and can get in with a win against the Bears next weekend, however, Minnesota is all but eliminated from the playoffs. 
  2. The Chiefs won the AFC West for the eighth straight year with a 25-17 triumph over the Bengals. Kansas City will be the No. 3 seed, though, its worst seeding of the Patrick Mahomes era.
  3. The AFC South is wild. The division-leading Jaguars beat the Panthers, 26-0, without Trevor Lawrence; C.J. Stroud returned to lead the Texans to a 26-3 win over the Titans; and the Colts got a 23-20 win over the Raiders. Texans-Colts next week is a win-and-in.
  4. The Steelers kept pace with Houston and Indianapolis with a 30-23 win over the Seahawks behind 202 yards rushing, including 122 from Najee Harris.
  5. The Rams are in the playoffs as Los Angeles escaped with a wild 26-25 win over the Giants. New York muffed a late two-point conversion and failed to connect on an even later field goal. That plus the Seahawks' loss clinched the postseason berth for the Rams.

☝️ Good morning to everyone but especially ...



It was nearly halftime, and the battle for the AFC's No. 1 seed between the Ravens and the Dolphins was living up to the hype, with Baltimore leading 14-13. Then ...

  • Lamar Jackson found a wide-open Zay Flowers for a 75-yard touchdown.
  • Less than a minute later, Roquan Smith picked off Tua Tagovailoa.
  • Four plays later, Jackson fired a fourth-and-7 dart to Isaiah Likely, who snagged the ball with one hand, turned upfield and went 35 yards for a touchdown.
  • Justice Hill took the second-half kickoff 78 yards. Three plays later, Jackson found a wide-open Likely for a 7-yard score.

That explosion was emblematic of just how dominant the Ravens are: In four and a half minutes, they turned a 14-13 lead into a 35-13 slaughter ... and they didn't stop there. By the time it mercifully ended, the scoreboard read Ravens 56, Dolphins 19.

Baltimore is the AFC's No. 1 seed, clinching home-field advantage and a first-round bye, and Lamar Jackson might have wrapped up his second MVP with 321 yards passing and five touchdowns. The Ravens are in a league of their own, and it's a testament to the entire organization. 

  • The stars: Jackson was the 32nd pick (and fifth quarterback selected) in 2018. The Ravens traded up to get him. It's one of the greatest moves in franchise history. With 106 yards receiving today, Flowers set the franchise's single-season rookie receiving record. The Ravens acquired/rescued Smith from the Bears last season and made him the NFL's highest-paid linebacker.
  • The depth: Likely was a seldom-used backup before Mark Andrews' injury. Hill wasn't expected to contribute much, but injuries forced him into action. They combined for 154 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
  • The results: Baltimore has a +170 point differential against teams with winning records. That would be the best since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The proof is in the pudding. The Ravens are awesome.

Also awesome? The 49ers, who clinched the NFC's No. 1 seed. Brock Purdy threw for a pair of scores and broke the franchise's single-season passing record in a 27-10 win over the Commanders. San Francisco got help elsewhere -- more on that in a bit -- to earn that conference's first-round bye as well as home-field advantage.

🎉 Honorable mentions

😬 And not such a good morning for ...

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It's the call heard 'round the world. Or the reporting not heard 'round the few feet between left tackle Taylor Decker and referee Brad Allen. Or misheard. Or misidentified. Who knows? This is a mess. Saturday night, the Lions were robbed of a potential game-winning two-point conversion in a 20-19 loss to the Cowboys.

  • After Jared Goff found Amon-Ra St. Brown on an 11-yard touchdown to get Detroit to within a point with 23 seconds left in the game, the Lions opted to go for two.
  • Decker, Penei Sewell and Dan Skipper, who subbed in, all went over to Allen. Decker said he then reported to Allen. Allen apparently heard/thought he heard/interpreted Skipper report as eligible, announced No. 70 (Skipper) as eligible and told the Cowboys as much.
  • Decker caught Goff's pass in the end zone. The officials flagged Decker for illegal touching. In the immediate aftermath, Dan Campbell was shown repeatedly yelling "I told you!" In his press conference, Campbell said he even discussed what the team would do in that exact situation with Allen pregame. Skipper was adamant he hadn't said anything.
  • In the postgame pool report, Allen said Skipper reported as eligible and Decker did not. He also acknowledged Skipper didn't have to report as eligible considering where he lined up (so why he would report in the first place?) and Skipper had reported as eligible on earlier plays that game (maybe this was a source of confusion?).
  • The Lions still went for two from the 7-yard line and failed, but Micah Parson was lined up offsides. On the third two-point try, Goff threw incomplete to James Mitchell. Game over.

CBS Sports NFL rules analyst Gene Steratore said there likely was a miscommunication because Allen was looking at Skipper when Decker reported. The NFL is reportedly expected to downgrade Allen's crew. And it should. This was inexcusable.

The Eagles also have no excuses: Philadelphia fell, 35-31, to the Cardinals. Arizona coach Jonathan Gannon -- the Eagles' defensive coordinator last year -- saw his team rack up 449 yards against his former unit. Philadelphia's offense, meanwhile, managed just 275 yards.

There are lots of issues. The offense is disjointed. A frustrated A.J. Brown had "nothing to say." The defense is flat-out bad: Only the Commanders and Cardinals are worse this year in terms of expected points added.

Combine this result with Saturday night's, and the result is a disaster for the Eagles. After leading the NFC East pretty much all year, the Eagles ceded the lead to the Cowboys. Dallas will gladly take potentially multiple playoff games at home, where they're undefeated. Nick Sirianni and the Eagles' coaching staff were Cody Benjamin's top loser this week, and Jeff Kerr gave Philadelphia an "F" in our weekly grades.

😣 Not so honorable mentions

  • The Dolphins lost Bradley Chubb (feared torn ACL) and Xavien Howard (foot) to injury.
  • Panthers owner David Tepper appeared to throw a drink at a Jaguars fan.
  • "Too much eggnog" played a role in Aaron Gordon's dog bite injuries.
  • Texas star Rori Harmon (torn ACL) is done for the season.

🏈 Updated NFL playoff picture

We entered this week with 24 teams in the playoff hunt. We're now down to 19. Here's the playoff picture:

In the AFC ...

  1. Ravens: 13-3, clinched No. 1 seed
  2. Dophins 11-5, clinched playoff berth
  3. Chiefs: 10-6, clinched AFC West
  4. Jaguars: 9-7
  5. Browns 11-5, clinched playoff berth
  6. Bills: 10-6
  7. Colts: 9-7
  8. Texans: 9-7
  9. Steelers: 9-7

In the NFC ...

  1. 49ers: 12-4, clinched No. 1 seed
  2. Cowboys: 11-5, clinched playoff berth
  3. Lions: 11-5, clinched NFC North
  4. Buccaneers: 8-8
  5. Eagles: 11-5, clinched playoff berth
  6. Rams: 9-7, clinched playoff berth
  7. Packers: 8-8
  8. Seahawks: 8-8
  9. Saints: 8-8
  10. Vikings: 7-9

🏆 College Football Playoff: Picks, previews and why any team can win it all

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It's here! It's here, it's here, it's here: The College Football Playoff semifinals are today, with No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Michigan in the Rose Bowl (preview) and No. 3 Texas vs. No. 2 Washington in the Sugar Bowl (preview).

Our college football writers have pumped out an incredible amount of content. Like, truly incredible. You'll get the link dump soon. But first ... Tom Fornelli's best bets. That includes ...

  • Fornelli: "Michigan has been one of the most dominant teams in the country, and while it doesn't have nearly the same level of postseason success Alabama has experienced under coach Nick Saban, this is not your typical Alabama team. We've seen the Crimson Tide struggle against inferior competition at times this season, and the Wolverines defense is legitimate ... Still, I'm not here to sit on the fence, so if I'm going to make a pick, it's hard to pass up Alabama as an underdog in a College Football Playoff game, no? Pick: Alabama +1.5"

OK, now for the link dump:

As for top non-CFP bowl games ...

  • No. 6 Georgia crushed opt-out- and injury-riddled No. 5 Florida State, 63-3, the largest win in bowl history. Kirby Smart says something has to change.
  • No. 9 Missouri beat No. 6 Ohio State, 14-3, and Eli Drinkwitz got an extension.
  • No. 11 Ole Miss topped No. 10 Penn State, 38-25, for the first 11-win season in program history.
  • Bowls recap

🏀 NBA roundup: Pistons end losing streak, huge Knicks-Raptors trade

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So that's what a smiling Cade Cunningham looks like! ... You may beat the Pistons 28 times in a row, but you're not gonna beat them 29 times in a row. Detroit got its first win in over two months by beating the Raptors129-127, at home Saturday night. The 28 straight defeats tied the longest slide in NBA history. But now it's over, Detroit. Rejoice!

Toronto was also part of the weekend's other big NBA news: The Raptors traded OG Anunoby to the Knicks as part of the long-awaited blockbuster for the 3-and-D standout.

  • Knicks receive: SF OG Anunoby, PF Precious Achiuwa, PG Malachi Flynn
  • Raptors receive: SF RJ Barrett, PG Immanuel Quickley, 2024 second-round draft pick

Anunoby, 26, is the prototypical modern NBA wing: Last year he made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, led the league in steals per game and shot nearly 39% from 3. Quickley, however, is a really good, fun player and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, and Barrett is a talented wing returning to his home country. They're 24 and 23, respectively. Brad Botkin graded this trade as a win-win.

Elsewhere ...

📺 What we're watching Monday

🏈 Fiesta Bowl: No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 23 Liberty, 1 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Citrus Bowl: No. 17 Iowa vs. No. 21 Tennessee, 1 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Timberwolves at Knicks, 3 p.m. on NBA TV
🏒 NHL Winter Classic: Golden Knights at Kraken, 3 p.m. on truTV/TNT
🏈 CFP Semifinal -- Rose Bowl: No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Alabama, 5 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 CFP Semifinal -- Sugar Bowl: No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas, 8:45 p.m on ESPN