Buffalo not only needs to beat the Dolphins at Miami this week, but they also need the Ravens, Titans and Chargers to lose. The Bills already have lost five road games this season, but running back LeSean McCoy has scored seven total touchdowns (five rushing) in six regular-season games against Miami, his most against any NFL team.
Tennessee’s road to the playoffs is simple: Win this week against the Jaguars and the Titans are in. Tennessee is the only playoff-contending team in the AFC that controls its fate.
However, the Jaguars, having already won the AFC South, will not make it easy on their division foes. Jacksonville reportedly will play its starters this week, making life more difficult for the Titans, who’ve lost three straight.
The key to the Titans’ success this week could lie in running back Derrick Henry. The team is 7-0 this season when Henry rushes at least 10 times and 1-7 in games in which he has fewer than 10 carries. The odds certainly are in Tennessee’s favor this week, but the Titans need to take care of business.
The NHL’s annual Winter Classic is billed as a return to hockey’s roots, eschewing a covered arena for brisk cold and unpredictable elements. The kind of pond hockey Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel played as a child in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
But then one notices the 45,000-plus fans, and the rolls of cotton mimicking snow, and the professional baseball locker room where the players lace up their skates instead of using an old log on the side of a lake, and the television cameras filming a documentary about their preparations, and all the trappings that make this a freakish, hyperbolic imitation of the boys-on-the-frozen-lake aesthetic.
Hence, the challenge for a guy like Eichel at the Winter Classic is the challenge he faces each day in (another) lost season for the Sabres:
Tune it out. Focus on the game in its simplest and purest form, like he would when he and his father would play outdoors until the last beams of the day’s dying light disappeared.
You make so many memories just be being out there, Eichel said. It’s pretty amazing how much better you can get just with some skates and a stick and a puck. You don’t need a lot.