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twist: this week in sports talk november 12, 2017

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 weekend 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 filled with conflict, disappointment, intrigue and agita. And some of it even happened on the field and on the court.

For Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here’s what you need to know this week (and not a single thing more).

3 for the week of November 12, 2017:

  1. Los Angeles Rams are on a roll. Must know: The NFL’s LA Rams are 7-2 for the season and averaging 32.9 points per game (last weekend, they beat the New York Giants 51-17). The team is on pace to match the offensive production of the 1999 then-St. Louis Rams – known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.” That year, the team went 13-3 and eventually won a Super Bowl. Nice to know: This is after a 2016-17 season when the Rams went 4-12 and had the worse offense in the NFL. Their turnaround is the biggest single-season improvement in offense in the modern era. Another fun fact? Last season the Rams gave up 49 sacks, the second most in the league – this season they’re at 10, the second-best in the league. Extra credit: The team’s new head coach is 31-year old Sean McVay, who’s the youngest head coach in NFL history and currently a favorite for Coach of the Year. Quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley have emerged as star players. The Rams are suddenly a playoff contender. So your line of the week can be: “How ‘bout those Rams?”
  2. NBA season continues to surprise. Must know: The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to wobble, and are currently 5-7. Isaiah Thomas was the team’s major off-season acquisition, and he’s been out with an injury all season – that leaves LeBron James to carry the effort, and the team’s defense has been weak throughout the season. Nice to know: The NBA’s underdogs are exceeding expectations: the Detroit Pistons are 9-3 and they defeated the Warriors on the road; the Minnesota Timberwolves are 7-4. The Western Conference had been expected to dominate the league again this season, but so far, the East is holding its own. Extra credit: Despite losing Gordon Hayward to season ending injury, the Boston Celtics are on an 11-game winning streak: they lead the Eastern Division and are 11-2 for the season. But no one should get cocky: on Friday, the Celts’ Kyrie Irving was being evaluated for a concussion after being elbowed in the face by his own teammate. Ugh.
  3. Don’t mess with Texas – unless it’s really necessary. Must know: Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is threatening to sue the NFL if current Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract is renewed without being “restructured.” This week Jones announced that he had retained star attorney David Boies to represent him, and demanded that all owners have a final vote on the terms of the contract extension. Nice to know: This dispute is partially the result of Jones’ dissatisfaction with the way league management has handled the controversy around Colin Kaepernick and other players who have chosen to “take a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem. It’s also due in part to the 6-game suspension delivered to Jones’ star player Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott for a domestic violence accusation. Extra credit: A federal appeals court just ruled that Elliott must serve the suspension, taking him out for the next six games. The group negotiating with Goodell on behalf of the 32 team owners is reportedly accelerating its work to head off Jones’ insurgency. The owners had already agreed in May to renew Goodell’s contract and to delegate the details to the negotiating committee; the committee meets again on Monday. Watch this space for further details.

For those looking to demonstrate advanced sports knowledge: An international incident may be about to play out in the southern Chinese city of Hangzhou. UCLA freshman basketball player LiAngelo Ball (brother of 2nd-round draft pick Lonzo Ball of the LA Lakers) was detained along with two Bruins teammates – the three were accused of shoplifting sunglasses at a Louis Vuitton store. The team was in town to play Georgia Tech in Shanghai this weekend. The three are currently confined to their hotel and unable to leave the country – the rest of the team departed China on Saturday and the trio will reportedly have to remain in the country for “a week or two” longer.

This week also saw the tragic death of beloved baseball player Roy Halliday, a retired MLB pitcher, in a plane crash in Florida. Halliday threw a perfect game and then a no-hitter in the playoffs in the same season.

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: teams are fighting for position in the College Football Playoff rankings and conference championships, so this will become a livelier topic than ever this month:

#6 TCU at #5 Oklahoma – these are two of the best teams in the Big 12; the winner of this game will take sole possession of first place in the conference

#3 Notre Dame at #7 Miami– both teams are in the thick of the playoff hunt and need a victory – the Hurricanes are unbeaten so far

#1 Georgia at #10 Auburn – the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” continues this weekend –Auburn is trying to be the first two-loss team to make the playoffs in history with a win; Georgia has already wrapped up the SEC East title, and a win would give them a wider margin of error for the rest of the season.

NFL Games:

New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills – the Saints’ defense has led the team to a six-game winning streak, and they’ve won the last 4 match-ups against the Bills.

New York Jets at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at the start of the season, many thought that the Jets would go 0-16; instead, if they can win this game they’ll be 5-5. Will they make the playoffs? Maybe.

New York Giants at SF 49’ers – the 1-7 Giants meet the 0-8 49’ers; if the Giants don’t win this game, the expectation is that Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and the team will part ways. Either team could end up with a first-round draft pick, depending on how this one goes.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – the 3-5 Broncos are coming off a loss to the Eagles, and the Pats are 6-2 for the season and coming off a “bye” week; the fabled Broncos defense is the team’s best hope against Tom Brady.

Don’t forget to check out our roundup of perfect holiday gifts for sports fans.

Go, Lions! That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.

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