The final weekend of the NFL regular season certainly lived up to the hype, Matthew Crist looks back at all the action....
"Chicago’s win was also good news for defending champions the Philadelphia Eagles, whose 24-0 win over the Washington Redskins means it is they and not the Vikings who grab the final NFC Wild Card spot and will face the Bears next weekend."
Ravens flying high
There were wild scenes of celebration on Sunday night as the Baltimore Ravens squeezed past the Cleveland Browns to secure their first AFC North title for six years with a dramatic 26-24 win.
The Ravens knew that any victory would guarantee them a playoff place but as Cleveland edged closer to field goal range late in the game it looked like they might just miss out in agonising fashion, only for Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley to pick-off Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and spark mayhem inside the M&T Bank Stadium .
The dramatic win didn't just ensure postseason football for the Ravens but also extinguished any hopes the Pittsburgh Steelers had of sneaking into the playoffs at their expense following their 13-10 win over Cincinnati and means Baltimore are now as short as 1817/1 to win the Super Bowl in February.
Meanwhile on Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs piled on the points against the Oakland Raiders to blast their way to the first overall seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and are 6.05/1 to be crowned Super Bowl champions.
Andrew Luck starred once again for the Indianapolis, throwing for 285 yards and three touchdowns, as the Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 33-17 on Sunday night to clinch the final available spot in the postseason as the AFC's No 6 seed.
Bears channel spirit of '85
One of the key games of the weekend saw the Chicago Bears end any hopes the Minnesota Vikings had of playoff football with a 24-10 win courtesy of their relentless defence and the NFC North Champions can now be backed at 12.5 on the Exchange to win their first Super Bowl since 1985.
Chicago's win was also good news for defending champions the Philadelphia Eagles, whose 24-0 win over the Washington Redskins means it is they and not the Vikings who grab the final NFC Wild Card spot and will face the Bears next weekend.
The New Orleans Saints took the opportunity to rest a number of key names with the No 1 seed already secured and paid the price as they went down 33-14 to the Carolina Panthers yet still remain 3.8514/5 favourites to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy in Atlanta.
The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South title with a 20-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars with Deshaun Watson throwing for 234 yards and also running in for a touchdown while a 38-3 hammering by the New England Patriots was enough to see Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles lose his job.
So the Wild Card picture is now complete with the Houston Texans facing the Indianapolis Colts and the Dallas Cowboys up against the Seattle Seahawks next Saturday with the Baltimore Ravens taking on the LA Chargers next Sunday ahead of Philadelphia's trip to Chicago.
Man about Towns
With Christmas now almost a distant memory the NBA action traditionally hots-up as January approaches and if Sunday is anything to go by 2019 will be no different with a number of impressive performances.
Karl-Anthony Towns went for 34 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, six blocks and three steals in a masterful performance as the Minnesota Timberwolves downed the Miami Heat 113-104 and can now be backed at 160.00159/1 to be crowned NBA Champions.
Also on Sunday the Orlando Magic picked up an important win over the Detroit Pistons in exciting fashion as Evan Fournier made a buzzer-beating jump-shot to give the Orlando Magic a 109-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons to move to 16-9 for the season.
In California the Los Angeles the Lakers recorded their first win without LeBron James as they topped the Sacramento Kings 121-114 and can now be backed at 22.021/1 on the Exchange for the NBA Championship while Portland overcame Philadelphia, Orlando defeated Detroit, Dallas beat Oklahoma and the Toronto Raptors were 95-89 victors over the Chicago Bulls to remain 10.09/1 second favourites for the title.