NFL playoffs, UFC on ABC, NHL fill weekend sports schedule

Jan. 15 (UPI) — The NFL playoffs, the first weekend of the 2020-21 NHL season and a rare series of UFC fights on ABC pack the weekend sports schedule. The PGA Tour, NBA and college basketball compete this weekend.

Eight NFL teams vie for spots in their respective conference championship games Saturday and Sunday in what will likely be the most-watched sporting events.

The Green Bay Packers, top seed in the NFC, will host the Los Angeles Rams in the first playoff game of the weekend at 4:35 p.m. EST Saturday on Fox.

The Buffalo Bills then will host the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC Divisional Round matchup, which airs at 8:15 p.m. EST Saturday on NBC.

The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs launch Sunday’s playoff slate. The AFC’s top seed will host the Cleveland Browns at 3:05 p.m. EST Sunday on CBS.

Tom Brady takes on fellow future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees in the final playoff game of the weekend. That NFC Divisional Round matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints will air at 6:40 p.m. EST Sunday on Fox.

The Packers and Saints are betting favorites to advance to the NFC Championship game. The Chiefs and Ravens are favored to advance to the AFC finale. The conference title games air will Jan. 24 on Fox (NFC) and CBS (AFC).

UFC on ABC

ABC will have its first-ever broadcast of the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Sunday. That also marks the first time in more than two years that a UFC event has aired on network TV.

“For these kids to get an opportunity to showcase what they have on ABC is such a big deal to us,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN earlier this week.

The main card for UFC Fight Night will get underway at 3 p.m. EST Saturday. Preliminary fights will air from noon until the start of the main card on ESPN+.

Featherweights Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar will square off in the main event on the main card. Holloway (21-6) is favored to win the battle between the American fighters.

Kattar (22-4) has won two-consecutive fights since his Nov. 9, 2019, loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov. Holloway has lost two-consecutive bouts and three of his last four matchups.

The main card also will feature a middleweight bout between Punahele Soriano and Dusko Todorovic. Joaquin Buckley then will take on fellow middleweight Alessio Di Chirico in the third bout.

The fourth fight is a welterweight battle between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Li Jingliang. Fellow welterweights Carlos Condit and Matt Brown will then enter the octagon for the final bout before the main event.

NHL season underway

The 2021 NHL season started Wednesday and a dozen more games are planned for the weekend.

The reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning will host the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. EST Friday on ESPN+. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Colorado Avalanche in another great matchup at 9 p.m. EST Friday on ESPN+.

The Boston Bruins, who had the best regular-season record last season, will face the New Jersey Devils at 1 p.m. EST Saturday on NHL Network.

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin then will hit the ice for what should be one of the best games of the weekend at noon EST Sunday when the Capitals and Penguins battle in Pittsburgh. That matchup will air on NBC.

Friday

College basketball

Duquesne at St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN2

Fresno State at Nevada at 11 p.m. EST on FS1

NHL

Penguins at Flyers at 7 p.m. EST on NHL Network

Blackhawks at Lightning at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN+

Blues at Avalanche at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN+

Golf

Sony Open: Second round from 7 to 10:30 p.m. EST on Golf Channel

NBA

Mavericks at Bucks at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN

Pelicans at Lakers at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN

Saturday

College basketball

North Carolina at Florida State at noon EST on ESPN

Georgia at Ole Miss at noon EST on ESPN2

Missouri at Texas A&M at 1 p.m. EST on SEC Network

San Diego State at Utah State at 1 p.m. EST on CBSSN

Iowa State at Kansas at 2 p.m. EST on Big Ten Network

Michigan at Minnesota at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN2

Creighton at Butler at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN+

Kentucky at Auburn at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN

Baylor at Texas Tech at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN

Vanderbilt at Tennessee at 6 p.m. EST on SEC Network

Virginia at Clemson at 6 p.m. EST on ESPN

Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN

Kansas State at Texas at 8 p.m. EST on Longhorn Network

Louisville at Miami at 8 p.m. EST on ACC Network

Soccer

Premier League: Fulham vs. Chelsea at 12:30 a.m. EST on NBC

NHL

Bruins at Devils at 1 p.m. EST on NHL Network

UFC Fight Night on ABC

Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic at 3 p.m. EST

Joaquin Buckley vs. Alessio Di Chirico after first fight

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang after second fight

Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown after third fight

Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar after fourth fight

NFL

Rams at Packers at 4:35 p.m. EST on Fox

Ravens at Bills at 8:15 p.m. EST on NBC

Golf

Sony Open: Third round from 7 to 10:30 p.m. EST on Golf Channel

NBA

Magic at Nets at 6 p.m. EST on NBA League Pass

Sunday

Soccer

Premier League: Liverpool vs. Manchester United at 11:30 a.m. EST on Peacock Premium

College basketball

UCF at Houston at 2 p.m. EST on ESPNU

Virginia Tech at Wake Forest at 6 p.m. EST on ACC Network

NHL

Capitals at Penguins at noon EST on NBC

Blackhawks at Panthers at 7 p.m. EST on NHL Network

NFL

Browns at Chiefs at 3:05 p.m. EST on CBS

Buccaneers at Saints at 6:40 p.m. EST on Fox

Golf

Sony Open: Fourth round from 6 to 10 p.m. EST on Golf Channel

This week in the National Football League

The Cleveland Browns won the AFC Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 in a nearly empty Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Amelia J. Bell

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