Sunday 31st December 2017

Event of the Day

Our event of the day is the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The NFC South Division rivals are both in the playoff spots ahead of this last round of the regular season. Atlanta have a 9-6 record and need to win this match or have the Seattle Seahawks, also in the playoff hunt with a 9-6 record, lose their own game against the Arizona Cardinals. Carolina however, have secured a playoff place, but are fighting for the division title and home field advantage in the wild card round as they have the same record as the New Orleans Saints with a 11-4 record. The Falcons lost 23-13 away to the Saints last Sunday, while the Panthers have just recorded three straight victories at home, the last being a 22-19 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Atlanta lead the NFL with number of games decided by eight points or fewer this season – 10 games, six wins and four losses. Carolina are second with nine such games, but a better winning percentage – they’ve won eight of those matches. Their duel in November was one of these close contests with the Panthers coming out on top at home, 20-17. Both sides’ quarterbacks were the league MVP in the last two seasons – Panthers’ Cam Newton in 2015 and Falcons’ Matt Ryan in 2016 – and both led their teams to Super Bowls in those years, but both were losers on Super Bowl Sunday. The hosts’ wide receiver Julio Jones is third in the league with 1364 receiving yards. The visitors’ defensive end Julius Peppers is the main threat to Matt Ryan, as he has 11 sacks so far this season. This match of such huge importance should deliver a spectacular showdown at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the Premiership Rugby clash between Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers at Sandy Park in Exeter. Exeter lead the Aviva Premiership with 45 points and are on a run of six league wins in a row. They were last defeated in September - by Tigers, who are only ninth with 28 points and have five successive defeats in all competitions. There are many more decisive matches in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins up against the Buffalo Bills at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The Seattle Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals at the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, while the Baltimore Ravens face the Cincinnati Bengals at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Los Angeles Chargers come up against the Oakland Raiders at the StubHub Center in Carson, whilst the Tennessee Titans clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Nisan Stadium in Nashville. In the NBA, the Indiana Pacers host the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana. In the NHL, the Vegas Golden Knights take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In the Big Bash League, the Adelaide Strikers play the Brisbane Heat at the Adelaide Oval. In the Pro14 Rugby, there is a game between the Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets at Cardiff Arms Park.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by NFL

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