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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.

🏀 It's not such a good morning for ...


So close yet so far. And so many losses. So, so many losses. The Pistons have lost 28 consecutive games, tying the NBA record, and the latest might hurt the most. Detroit blew a massive lead -- and then nearly came back -- in a 128-122 overtime loss to the league-best Celtics.

  • Detroit led by as much as 21 and by 19 at halftime but were tied by the end of the third quarter.
  • Cade Cunningham scored 31 points and has averaged 33 points over his last five games.
  • Boston led by six with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter before Jaden Ivey's personal 6-0 run. Jayson Tatum's score after a lengthy review on a goaltending call put Boston up before Bojan Bogdanovic's putback forced overtime.
  • Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis finished things off.

The 28 losses -- the longest slide in NBA record -- ties the 76ers' streak spanning the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Now we sadly have to talk about the longest losing streak in major North American sports: 29 losses by the 1942-45 Chicago Cardinals, who may not have provided us with wins but did provide us with great names such as Pop Ivy, Bill Daddio, Bus Mertes, Walt Watt and Joe Vodicka. Fans probably needed a lot of Vodicka to withstand that losing streak.

The Pistons can avoid joining that bunch by beating the Raptors in Detroit on Saturday night.

😕 Not so honorable mentions

🔥 And good morning to everyone else but especially ...



Joe Flacco started this NFL season, carting around his kids, staying in shape and waiting for the phone to ring. He didn't think about retirement, and the Browns are thanking their lucky stars he didn't ... and that no one else called. Flacco and the Browns clinched a playoff berth with a 37-20 win over the Jets.

  • Flacco, poetically facing his most recent former team, threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He's the first player ever with 250+ yards passing and multiple touchdowns passing in each of his first five games with a team.
  • Remember, he only joined the Browns' practice squad in late November!
  • Days after heading Amari Cooper's franchise-record effort, Flacco fed David Njoku for a historic first quarter and threw touchdowns to Jerome Ford (twice) and Elijah Moore with Cooper out.
  • The Browns are the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs after starting four different quarterbacks in multiple games.

Flacco looks awesome. Yes, he'll make costly mistakes. But his pocket presence, management and even mobility have been terrific, and his arm strength -- always elite by any measure -- remains that way.

There are a lot of unlikely, even borderline miraculous stories in sports, and this one is right up there. No one will want to face this team in the postseason.

😄 Honorable mentions

🏈 NFL Week 17 picks: Dolphins, Ravens battle for top seed

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Monday night, the Ravens smashed the 49ers to claim the best record in the NFL. Their Christmas present? A date with the Dolphins with the top seed in the AFC on the line. Both teams are led by big names on offense -- MVP favorite Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill -- but I want to talk defense, because both of these units are awesome.

Since Week 11, Miami has led the NFL in sacks and total defense. On the season, Baltimore leads the league in sacks and scoring defense They're both in for massive, unique challenges Sunday afternoon. And, as John Breech notes, there's an extra challenge for the visiting Dolphins. Here's John's pick:

  • Breech: "First, we have the NFL's best passing offense in the Dolphins going up against a Ravens defense that only surrenders 185.7 yards per game through the air. ... The other matchup we're getting in this game is that NFL's leading rushing offense in Baltimore going up against a Dolphins defense that only surrenders 90.8 yards per game on the ground. ... When the weather gets cold, I generally pick substance over style, so I feel like that means I have to take the Ravens here. The pick: Ravens 30-23 over Dolphins"

Another crucial game is the 7-8 Saints at the 8-7 Buccaneers. Tampa Bay can clinch the NFC South with a win. Pete Prisco says ...

  • Prisco: "The Bucs have won four straight behind Baker Mayfield, but they have had troubles with the Saints in their recent history at home, losing four of five in their stadium. The Saints will be rested after playing last Thursday, but they didn't play well in the loss to the RamsPick: Bucs 27, Saints 17"

Because I'm in the gift-giving mood (and because there are so many good games this weekend), here are three picks of my own:

  • Cowboys over Lions
  • Chiefs over Bengals
  • Packers over Vikings

If I'm right, be sure to thank me. And if I'm wrong, you should have listened to our experts anyway:

Pete Prisco | Will BrinsonJohn Breech | Jordan Dajani | Tyler Sullivan

🏈 New Year's Six bowls begin, but absences loom large


It's an absolutely loaded college football bowl weekend, with the (poorly named) New Year's Six bowl games getting underway to lead the charge. That includes two top-10 battles: No. 9 Missouri and No. 7 Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl Classic and No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 5 Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

Tom Fornelli has picks for that game and more, but you'll have to forgive him (and yourself) if these feel especially tricky. There are opt-outs all over the place. Ohio State will be without its starting quarterback, who has already transferred. Florida State's quarterback is in the transfer portal. Top players all over nearly every roster have opted out for the NFL Draft, too.

I get the opt-outs. I really do. Especially when a national championship is no longer on the line. But could players still in the running for a title opt out in the future? Dennis Dodd wonders if that could be an unintended consequence of the 12-team playoff.

  • Dodd: "Ultimately, only the top NFL Draft prospects would have a choice to make. But where is that line drawn? This year, compensation slotting ended at approximately $12 million for the final pick of the first round. It's unlikely any NIL deal in college football can match that figure. ... 'Some guys are going to do it,' said Houston Texans linebacker and former Alabama star Will Anderson Jr. 'Some guys that probably won't, just to take care of themselves. You can't tell anybody what to do with their own bodies.'"

The overwhelming sentiment -- and Dennis spoke to about 20 people -- was that opting out in that scenario seems unlikely and potentially even damaging. I suppose we'll know a year from now.

NOTE: The following section contains language some readers may find disturbing.

🏀 Illinois suspends Terrence Shannon Jr. after rape charge

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Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. was suspended indefinitely after being arrested and charged with a rape that allegedly took place in Kansas in the fall.

  • The Douglas County (Kansas) District Attorney issued an arrest warrant for Shannon stemming from an alleged Sept. 8 incident when Shannon attended the Illinois-Kansas football game. Shannon turned himself in on Thursday.
  • In a statement, Illinois specified Shannon was "not in Lawrence on official University business, nor was he a member of the University's travel party." It also said it has been aware of an investigation since September but did not receive any "actionable information" until Wednesday.
  • Shannon's attorney, Mark P. Sutter, says Shannon has "cooperated with law enforcement throughout the investigation, declaring his innocence from the beginning." Sutter says Shannon "intends to take his case to trial."

Shannon is averaging a team-high 21.7 points for the No. 11 Illini this season. He's 27th in the 2024 CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. Illinois faces Fairleigh Dickinson tonight.

📺 What we're watching this weekend


🏈 Gator Bowl: No. 22 Clemson vs. Kentucky, noon on ESPN
🏈 Sun Bowl: No. 19 Oregon State vs. No. 16 Notre Dame, 2 p.m. on CBS
🏀 Bucks at Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏈 Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 9 Missouri at No. 7 Ohio State, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 San Diego State at No. 10 Gonzaga (M), 9 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Grizzlies at Clippers, 10 p.m. on NBA TV


🏈 Peach Bowl: No. 11 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Penn State, noon on ESPN
🏀 No. 17 Ohio State at Michigan (W), noon on Fox
🏀 No. 22 Creighton at No. 10 Marquette (M), 2 p.m. on CBS
🏀 No. 10 Baylor at No. 5 Texas (W), 2 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Minnesota at No. 4 Iowa (W), 2 p.m. on BTN
🏈 Orange Bowl: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 5 Florida State, 4 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 UCLA at Oregon (M), 4 p.m. on CBS
🏀 Raptors at Pistons, 6 p.m. on NBA League Pass
🏈 Lions at Cowboys, 8:15 p.m. on ABC/ESPN


🏈 Dolphins at Ravens, 1 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Raiders at Colts, 1 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Saints at Buccaneers,1 p.m. on Fox
🏈 Steelers at Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. on Fox
🏈 Bengals at Chiefs, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Packers at Vikings, 8:20 p.m. on NBC