Test of the West

December 14, 2021

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

Another loss for the Cardinals just made things interesting in the playoff outlook. Every NFL team has 3-or-more losses through Week 14 for the first time in seven years, and no team has clinched a playoff berth. Four weeks remain, and nothing is certain.

Letter Rip!



NFC West: Rams Roll in the Desert


Rams def. Cardinals (30-23) Behind Stafford’s 3 TDs to Tighten NFC Playoff Race


The NFC playoff picture just got tighter. Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ high-powered offense outshined the Cardinals in an NFC West rivalry showdown on Monday Night Football (30-23). Stafford found the end zone three times to give the Rams their second straight win after a three-game skid. Los Angeles receivers Cooper Kupp (13 receptions) and Odell Beckham Jr. (6 receptions) combined for 200 yards and 2 TDs through the air. The Cards pulled within a touchdown inside the final two minutes and completed an onside kick attempt before Aaron Donald’s third sack of the game to end it.


Arizona had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win. Instead, the Cards are just 3-3 in their last six games after a 7-0 start to the season.


QB Comparison

M. Stafford (LAR): 23/30, 287 yards, 3 TDs

K. Murray (ARI): 32/49, 383 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs


Watch: Stafford’s 3 TDs Lift Rams Over Cards (30-23)


NFC Playoff Picture

1. Packers (10-3)

2. Buccaneers (10-3)

3. Cardinals (10-3)

4. Cowboys (9-4)

5. Rams (9-4)

6. 49ers (7-6)

7. Washington (6-7)


In the Hunt: Vikings (6-7), Eagles (6-7), Falcons (6-7), Saints (6-7), Panthers (5-8), Seahawks (5-8)


Full NFL Playoff Picture (Following Week 14)


Additional Storylines

NFL: What We Learned From Rams-Cardinals on Monday Night Football

The Athletic: Rams, Stafford Dominate Cardinals to Cut Arizona’s Division Lead to 1 Game



UCL Draw Goes Haywire


UEFA Error Invalidates Initial Champions League Round of 16 Draw


We officially have the matchups for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 when the new year rolls around, but the draw itself was no walk in the park. UEFA executives opted to re-do the knockout draw after technical errors. The initial draw was scrapped before the final pairings were released, and there are a few clashes among European royalty out of the gate. Here are the Round of 16 matchups when play resume in February (15 & 16).


Round of 16 Matchups

PSG vs. Real Madrid

Inter vs. Liverpool

Man. United vs. Atletico Madrid

Bayern vs. RB Salzburg

Chelsea vs. Lille

Juventus vs. Villareal

Ajax vs. Benfica

Man. City vs. Sporting


Additional Storylines

Washington Post: Champions League Round-of-16 Draw Turns Into Fiasco After Numerous Errors

Sporting News: Champions League Re-Draw: Errors Force New Draw & PSG-Real Madrid Matchup



The Rankings Update (Top-25s)


Baylor Men Become 4th New No. 1 in as Many Weeks; UConn Women Hit Lowest Ranking in 14 Years


New polls and a new No. 1 in the men’s rankings. Baylor takes the top spot in college hoops after Purdue’s upset loss to Rutgers last week. The Bears smashed #6 Villanova on Sunday by 21 points to secure the top spot. The defending NCAA champions are the fourth No. 1 in as many weeks.


Men’s AP Poll (Top-10)

1. Baylor (9-0) | ↑1

2. Duke (7-1) | ↑1

3. Purdue (9-1) | ↓2

4. UCLA (9-1) | —

5. Gonzaga (8-2) | —

6. Alabama (8-1) | ↑3

7. Kansas (8-1) | ↑1

8. Arizona (9-0) | ↑3

9. Villanova (7-3) | ↓3

10. USC (10-0) | ↑6

Full AP Men’s Top-25


Meanwhile in the women’s polls, three of the top six climbed while UConn fell to their lowest ranking since 2007 after losing two games and star player Paige Bueckers to injury.


Women’s AP Poll (Top-10)

1. South Carolina (10-0) | —

2. NC State (8-1) | —

3. Stanford (6-2) | ↑1

4. Arizona (9-0) | ↑2

5. Baylor (9-1) | —

6. Louisville (8-1) | ↑1

T7. UConn (6-2) | ↓4

T7. Tennessee (9-0) | ↑2

9. Maryland (9-3) | ↓1

10. Indiana (8-2) | —

Full AP Women’s Top-25


Additional Storylines

The Athletic: Men’s College Basketball: It’s Baylor’s Turn at the Top

ESPN: UConn Women’s Basketball Down to Lowest Spot in AP Poll Since 2007



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\"🏀\" NBA: Steph Curry 1 Away From Record

Steph Curry dropped 26 points with five 3s in Monday’s win over the Pacers (102-100) to bring him within one trifecta of Ray Allen’s all-time 3-point record (2,973). Curry should break it tonight at Madison Square Garden.



\"🏎️\"  The Last Lap of Controversial F1 Finish

The 2021 Formula One season came down to two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, and one race. And in the end, the world championship literally came down to the last lap between the Mercedes and Red Bull titans in the season finale in Abu Dhabi. (SI)


\"🏈\"  The Worst Possible Playoff Matchups

At long last, the postseason picture is starting to clear up. Who do the NFL’s best teams want to avoid come January? Here are the worst possible playoff matchups for the top eight Super Bowl contenders. (The Ringer)


\"🏅\"  The USA Gymnastics Settlement

The young women who were abused by USA Gymnastics coach Larry Nassar reached a settlement worth $380 million on Monday. More than 300 women, including Olympians Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, finally have justice… “This chapter is finally closed.” (USA Today)



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