You don’t love professional sports, but your livelihood and/or personal happiness depends upon your being able to converse intelligently about it. It’s a common dilemma with a simple solution: you need to learn a new language. You need to learn how to talk sports. And we’re here to help! The TWIST is our weekly Dandelion Chandelier guide to what’s happened on the field, on the court and on the ice. Every Sunday you’ll find the three (and only three) things you need to know this coming week to speak cogently about professional sports with the boss, the gang at the office, your barber, your barista, your secret crush, or your in-laws. Do the TWIST every week and we promise you’ll know how to talk about sports like a champion.
This week’s edition of TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is chock-full of information, because it’s a busy time on the sports calendar. The coming week will see the continuation of the MLB post-season, the NBA pre-season, and the NHL regular season. Plus there are college football and NFL games all weekend. So you have plenty of options for showing how high your sports IQ is.
For Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here’s what you need to know (and not a single thing more).
3 for the week of October 8, 2017:
1. NFL has another weekend of upsets. Must know: William Goldman once said of Hollywood films, “no one knows anything.” That case could also be made for this year’s NFL regular season. Our Sports Desk has been whip-sawed by unexpected performances in the first four weeks of the season. The Buffalo Bills are on fire, and predicted “cellar dwellers” like the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t even close to the bottom. Nice to know: The New York Jets are perpetual underdogs who were ridiculed for possibly going 0 – 16 (meaning it was conceivable that they would lose every game this season). They’re 2 – 2 heading into this weekend. The New York Giants, a team some speculated might win the Super Bowl this year, are 0 – 4 as of this posting. Meaning they have lost every game. Extra Credit: The cynics/conspiracy theorists posited at the beginning of the season that the Jets would not even try to perform well – that they were in “tank mode” and intentionally losing so that they could achieve a higher position in the upcoming draft (the worse your record, the higher your draft position). During the off-season, the Jets released a lot of their best and most expensive players. Their possible motive for losing every game was to enable them to draft USC star quarterback Sam Darnold. The new fear among Jets fans is that they’ll do just well enough to lose that as an option. Could that be the Giants’ new strategy? A master plan to replace Eli Manning? Watch this space for further updates.
2. MLB post-season continues. Must know: As we mentioned in last week’s TWIST, the somewhat confusing baseball post-season is underway. The good news? It’s going to get a lot easier to follow as the number of teams in contention gets whittled down. The New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins in the AL wild card game. The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies in the NL wild card. Nice to know: So now what happens? The Yankees play the Cleveland Indians; the Houston Astros play the Boston Red Sox; the LA Dodgers play the Diamondbacks; and the Chicago Cubs play the Washington Nationals. Extra credit: All of these are best-of-five series, and there are lots of games this weekend. Be sure you know how “your” team did when you show up for work on Monday. The four winners go on to face each other in the race for their respective league championships. The two league champions meet in the World Series.
3. Cam Newton is in deep yogurt. Must know: Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton responded to a question by Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue this week by saying, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” Nice to know: In a video statement on Twitter the following day, he expressed regret for his remark. “After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” Newton said. “And to be honest, that was not my intention. If you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you.” Extra credit: Yogurt-maker Dannon cut its ties with the player, with a spokesman saying the company was “shocked and disheartened” by his comment. Gold Star extra credit: The reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue, apologized the same day for her previous Tweets with racist overtones, one of which contained a racial slur.
For the remainder of the college football and NFL seasons, we’ll highlight the key weekend games you need to know about, and if we go to press before they’re over, it will be up to you to find out the final scores before hitting the office on Monday morning. Remember: you always need to know how “your” team did. Here are the key match-ups that the sports-minded will want to discuss this week:
College Football Games:
- #4 Penn State beat Northwestern, 31-7 – undefeated Penn State decisively beat Big 10 rival Northwestern; Northwestern had previously been unbeaten at home this season
- #13 Miami defeated Florida State, 24-20 – Miami headed into Tallahassee as a slight favorite in this rivalry for dominance in the state of Florida
- Michigan State beat #7 Michigan, 14-10 – the ferocious competition between the two schools is legendary – one player described it as “a neighborhood fight – a backyard brawl.” MSU prevailed this year, and the timeless trash talk continues.
- Stanford defeated Utah, 23-20 – The Cardinals gave Utah their first defeat of the season (sadly, it was their homecoming game) in this Pac-12 match-up
By the way, in case anyone is interested, in the Ivy League, Dartmouth and Columbia remain undefeated this season; Yale and Princeton are 3-1; Harvard, Brown and Penn are 2-2; and Cornell is 1-3.
- Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys – This is a rematch of a playoff game from last season where the Pack beat the Cowboys at home in overtime; the Cowboys would love to erase that memory with a win
- Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans – The AFC’s two hottest teams meet in Texas: with an upset victory at New England in the season opener, the Kansas City Chiefs are on an 8-game winning streak on the road. To make it nine in a row, they’ll have to defeat rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who’s also on a hot streak.
- Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions– both teams are 3-1 for the season, but the Panthers have demonstrated huge volatility, losing at home to the Saints, then defeating the Patriots on the road in a close game; the Lions are favored to win.
- San Diego Chargers at New York Giants– Both teams are 0-4 for the season, so the only thing at stake here is a potential top draft pick (and perhaps some avoidance of further ridicule from the fans).
Don’t forget to check out our roundup of perfect holiday gifts for sports fans.
We broke even in the friendly NFL pool last weekend. Just call us Even-Steven. And wish us luck this week. Go, Lions! That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.