It’s the most wonderful time of the year. At least, that’s how the saying goes. But, we all know that at times the holidays can be overwhelming between shopping, baking, getting together with family, and all other holiday traditions. Sometimes, you need a moment all to yourself and this time of the year the sports world has you covered.
There’s something for every sports fan in your life. College football? Bowl season. NBA? How about a Christmas Day slate chock full of stars. Hockey? Winter Classic. The point is, whatever you enjoy, you can find something in the coming weeks to watch when you need to escape your family asking whether you are dating anybody for the fifth year in a row.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top games to watch starting this weekend and running through New Year’s Day.
Saturday, December 22nd
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl- Houston vs. Army 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Get your day started early with a fun matchup between a spread you out and throw the ball all over the field Houston team and an old-school triple option attack from Army. Sure, star DT Ed Oliver is skipping this game to get ready for the draft, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of star power left.
Washington Redskins @ Tennessee Titans, 4:30 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Both teams are still in the playoff hunt just outside of the final Wild Card spot in their respective conferences. That makes for an intriguing Saturday matchup in Nashville with plenty on the line.
#19 Kentucky vs. #12 North Carolina (NCAAM), 5:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
It hasn’t been the smoothest start to the season for these two college basketball blue bloods. Calipari vs. Williams on a neutral floor in Chicago on a Saturday afternoon? Doesn’t get much better than that.
Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)
The Raptors have dominated the Sixers in each of their first two meetings so far this season, but Philly has been good at home.
Baltimore Ravens @ Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
The current leader in the race for the final AFC playoff, the Ravens, head to L.A. to face arguably the conference’s hottest team. Need we say more?
Sunday, December 23rd
Houston Texans @ Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m. ET (CBS)
Somehow, Nick Foles recaptured the magic of the Super Bowl run in leading an injury-riddled Eagles team to a win over the Rams on Sunday night. Can he do it again against a Texans team fighting for their first-ever first round bye?
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Steelers finally got over the hump against the Patriots, holding off New England 17-10 in Week 15. But, nothing is locked up yet with the Ravens right on their tail. Another tough task lies ahead in the Big Easy.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Kansas City has yet to clinch a first-round bye after losing to the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Now, they have a chance to at least do that, but they face a strong Seahawks team in the bright lights of Sunday night.
Tuesday, December 25th
Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks, 12:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Really the only reason this game is here is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Any time you can watch him, you should.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets, 3:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Rockets are still struggling mightily and find themselves currently out of the playoff picture. They have a chance to make a statement on national TV against a big conference rival here.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics, 5:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Boston throttled the Sixers to open the season, but the teams haven’t played since. Now, Philly has Jimmy Butler to try and help them overcome the obstacle the C’s present.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors, 8:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
LeBron and company are just a couple of games back of Golden State in the West and have been playing well as of late. With all the star power on the floor, this is a must-watch.
Wednesday, December 26th
ServPro First Responders Bowl- #25 Boise State vs. Boston College, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Start the day after the present-opening with a fun Boise State team that has a balanced offense and a strong defense.
Quick Lane Bowl- Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech, 5:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Follow it up with two of the stranger teams of the bowl season. Neither got much of a national spotlight this year, but both have played in some wild games.
Cheez-it Bowl- California vs. TCU, 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Finish the day of college football action with what is likely to be a defensive slugfest as two of the the Top 25 teams in the country in Defensive S&P+ meet.
Thursday, December 27th
Walk-on’s Independence Bowl- Temple vs. Duke, 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Temple’s offense has been explosive during the second half of the season and Duke has a quarterback, Daniel Jones, that some draft folks (Mel Kiper Jr.) are high on.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl- Miami vs. Wisconsin, 5:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Hurricanes and Badgers didn’t quite have the seasons they were hoping for, but watching a football game played in Yankee Stadium is always interesting.
Boston Celtics @ Houston Rockets, 8:00 p.m. ET (TNT)
It’s a big week of games for the Rockets with several matchups against top teams. After their game against the Thunder, the C’s come to visit.
Friday, December 28th
Camping World Bowl- #16 West Virginia vs. #20 Syracuse, 5:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Do you like offense? Well then this is the game for you. Will Grier and Eric Dungey should air it out plenty when these teams meet in Orlando.
Valero Alamo Bowl- #25 Iowa State vs. #13 Washington State, 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Cougars had a rough finish to the year, but Mike Leach offenses are always fun to watch.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)
The battle for L.A.! The Clippers have been surprisingly good this season and Tobias Harris has blossomed into a top flight player.
Saturday, December 29th
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl- #10 Florida vs. #7 Michigan, 12:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Now, we get into the meat of bowl season. This game is a bit of deja vu as Michigan and Florida have faced each other in a bowl game each of the last two seasons.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic- #3 Notre Dame vs. #2 Clemson, 4:00 p.m. (ESPN)
And. Here. We. Go. Can the Fighting Irish prevent another trip to the national title game for Dabo Swinney and Clemson? We find out in a matchup that will have the full attention of the sports world.
Capital One Orange Bowl- #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Alabama, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Heisman winner Kyler Murray vs. runner-up Tua Tagovailoa. Yes please!
Sunday, December 30th
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. ET (CBS)
Divisional opponents meeting in Nashville with playoff implications? Count me in.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Bears have already locked up the NFC North, but the Vikings are still fighting for their playoff lives. And, depending on results, Chicago could be playing for a first-round bye.
Tuesday, January 1st
Boston Bruins @ Chicago Blackhawks, 1:00 p.m. ET (NBC)
Hello NHL! A matchup of Original 6 teams at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day? Great way to start the New Year.
Playstation Fiesta Bowl- #11 LSU vs. #8 UCF, 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
You may need multiple screens for this block. Not only do you have the Winter Classic here, but also the undefeated Knights battling the Tigers and another game in Florida.
VRBO Citrus Bowl- #14 Kentucky vs. #12 Penn State, 1:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
Trace McSorely’s final game in a Penn State uniform comes against a Kentucky team with a solid defense. On the other side, running back Benny Snell Jr. will look to make an impression on scouts with a big performance in the national spotlight.
Rose Bowl- #9 Washington vs. #6 Ohio State, 5:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Granddaddy of them all features two teams who had playoff aspirations, but came up just short. Still, there is NFL-level talent all over the field in this game and because of that, it is worth a watch.
Allstate Sugar Bowl- #15 Texas vs. #5 Georgia, 8:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The final game of the holiday slate before you have to return to work the next day. It’s been a good, long break, so throw this on and let the second to last college football game of the season wash over you.