AP Sports Wrap for Saturday, Jan 7 2016
UNDATED (AP) — The road to Super Bowl 52 starts today in Houston and Seattle. It's the first day of the NFL playoffs with a pair of games involving wild card teams.
— In Houston, the AFC South champion Texans are going with Brock Osweiler at quarterback in their matchup against the wild-card Oakland Raiders. Osweiler signed a huge $72 million contract coming to Houston from Denver. This is Osweiler's first career playoff start after he was benched for Peyton Manning before the start of the postseason in Denver last season.
Osweiler started the first 14 games this season before being benched in the second quarter against Jacksonville on Dec. 18 after throwing interceptions on consecutive drives to give him 16 for the season. Tom Savage took over and rallied the Texans to the victory and started Houston's last two games.
But Savage suffered a concussion early in the second quarter Sunday in a loss to the Titans, and Osweiler took over, throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown and running for another score.
Backup Connor Cook gets the nod at quarterback for the Raiders, who suffered a huge blow when top QB Derek Carr broke his hand in the next-to-last game. Then backup Matt McCloin got injured, leaving Cook to lead coach Jack Del Rio's squad. He's the first rookie QB in NFL history to make his first start in a playoff game.
— In Seattle, the NFC West-champion Seahawks have the sizeable home-field advantage tonight when they take on the wild-card Detroit Lions, who come into this game on a three-game losing streak. Detroit is seeking its first playoff win since 1992, and their first road playoff win since the Bobby Layne days of 1957.
The Seahawks have won nine straight postseason games at home. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin tied a franchise record with 94 receptions in regular season. He has four TD catches in previous six playoff games.
Detroit QB Matthew Stafford finished with 4,327 yards passing in the regular season, his sixth straight season with 4,000 yards. His eight winning drives in fourth quarter and OT are the most by QB in single season since 1970.
If Detroit wins, the Lions would face the Dallas Cowboys. If the Seahawks win, Seattle would go to Atlanta to face the Falcons.
'Nova tries to bounce back
UNDATED (AP) — Top-ranked Villanova tries to recover from its first loss of the season when they host Marquette in Big East action tonight. The Wildcats fell to 14-1 with their 66-58 road loss at Butler Wednesday night, ending their 20-game winning streak going back to last season's NCAA tournament title.
Second-ranked Baylor, coming off a narrow 65-63 victory over Iowa State Wednesday night, hosts Oklahoma State as the Bears can climb to 15-0.
Elsewhere, third-ranked Kansas, which eked out an 82-80 win over rival Kansas State Tuesday night, is back in action against Texas Tech.
In the rest of the AP Top-25, fifth-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga is at Portland, No. 6 Kentucky hosts Arkansas, No. 7 West Virginia is home to TCU, No. 8 Duke hosts Boston College, No. 9 Louisville is at Georgia Tech, No. 10 Creighton (KRAY'-tin) is at Providence, No. 12 Florida State hosts No. 21 Virginia Tech, No. 14 North Carolina is home to N.C. State, No. 15 Oregon is at Washington State, No. 16 Xavier hosts St. John's, No. 17 Arizona is home to Colorado, No. 18 Butler visits Georgetown, No. 19 Saint Mary's is at San Francisco, No. 22 Cincinnati is at Houston, Clemson hosts No. 23 Notre Dame, No. 24 Florida is home to Tennessee, and No. 25 Indiana hopes to break its three-game losing streak when it hosts Illinois.
Eight games tonight
UNDATED (AP) — All the action in the NBA is tonight. The best game might be in San Antonio where a pair of division leaders meet. The Southwest-leading Spurs are hosting the Southeast-leading Charlotte Hornets
In other NBA games tonight, New York is at Indiana, Boston hosts New Orleans, Denver visits Oklahoma City, Toronto is at Chicago, Utah is at Minnesota, Dallas hosts Atlanta, and Detroit visits Portland.
Three matinees on ice...Blue Jackets try to get back in win column
UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers, who are sitting on the outskirts of the NHL playoff picture in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division, hope to gain some ground today when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
That's one of three day games on the NHL schedule. Elsewhere, it's Buffalo hosting the Winnipeg Jets
The amazing Columbus Blue Jackets, who had their 16-game winning streak end with a 5-0 loss at Washington Thursday night, try to get back in the win column tonight. The Jackets are home against the New York Rangers, a team Columbus coach John Tortorella used to coach.
The rest of the 12-game NHL slate is tonight.
Thomas, Reed starts third round on top
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore start the weekend at Kapalua tied for the lead entering the third round of the winners-only Tournament of Champions event. They're at 12-under par after two rounds. That's one shot better than Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker.
The six players who chose not to start at Kapalua are British Open champion Henrik Stenson, Masters champion Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Adam Scott. Jordan Spieth (SPEETH) won last year by eight shots. He's at 5-under, seven shots off the lead.
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