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TWIST: What You Need to Know to Talk Sports This Week

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 begins with a shameless plug for our recent roundup of perfect holiday gifts for sports fans. Act now to score something special for the super-fans on your list! Because if you wait too long, shopping itself could become a contact sport.

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 September 24, 2017:

1. NFL season off to a surprising start. Must know: Heading into Week 3 of the season, lots of pre-season expectations have been overturned. The “unbeatable” New England Patriots lost their first game of the season – at home. They recovered in their second game (last week was considered a “return to normalcy”). But a few teams that are thought to be highly talented are currently 0–2 (meaning they haven’t won a game yet this season). Nice to know: Those teams include the New York Giants, the Cincinnati Bengals and the New Orleans Saints. They could end up 0–3 by the end of the weekend, which would be newsworthy. History shows that once a team goes 0-3, it is very hard to make a comeback.  Extra Credit: In recent history, only three teams have recovered from a 0-3 deficit and gone on to the playoffs (that’s only 3% of all teams who have been in that situation): the 1992 San Diego Chargers (they went 0-4, actually); the 1995 Detroit Lions; and the 1998 Buffalo Bills. So while it doesn’t look likely, it can be done. Conversely, 77% of teams that start the season 3-0 have historically made the playoffs.

2. NFL sees acts of kindness and solidarity this week. Must know: Houston Texans’ player J. J. Watt raised over $30 million in hurricane Harvey relief funds. Nice to know: Players and coaches from all over the league made contributions to Watt’s effort. Extra credit: Former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick remains without a team, with many speculating that his social activism in kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to the treatment of black men by law enforcement is what’s keeping him from being employed. This week, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady used his public platform (he’s promoting his new book, and had been cautiously silent on the matter up to this point) to say that he thinks that Kaepernick deserves to be playing. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers previously made similar comments in support of Kaepernick.

3. The Yankees and Red Sox are slugging it out. Must know: In the AL East, the New York Yankees are coming on strong, with rookie slugger Aaron Judge back to hitting home runs. Nice to know: Unfortunately for the Yankees, their division rivals the Boston Red Sox continue to win, too, and they remain 3 games ahead of the Yanks. Extra credit: The Red Sox’s “magic number” (the number of wins needed to secure a playoff spot) for the division title is at 6 as of this posting. The Yankees can either catch them, or settle for a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

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 the games are 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:

  • #17 Mississippi State at #11 Georgia – both teams are 3-0, and this is a classic SEC matchup – Mississippi State is coming off of a big win last weekend versus LSU.
  • Alabama trounced Vanderbilt, 59-0 – both teams went into this match-up 3-0; Alabama was the favorite (one commentator mused that “it would take an absolutely Herculean effort to take down the Crimson Tide”), but given Vanderbilt’s win last week over Kansas State, some thought an upset might be possible.
  • Texas Christian University defeated Oklahoma State, 44-31 – going into the game, most commentators predicted that TCU wouldn’t be able to stop Oklahoma State, so this upset win is likely to be talked about on Monday morning.
  • Michigan beat Purdue, 28-10 – Purdue has a strong offense, but Michigan’s defense ranks in the top 15 in the nation in four major defensive categories.
  • UCLA at Stanford – Stanford has won nine straight in the series and has the edge at home. Check the score before you head into work if you have a fan of either team in your life.

NFL Games:

  • Houston Texans at New England Patriots – this is a replay of their playoff game last year, with the Pats the heavy favorites to win; Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson isn’t expected to pull off an upset – but if you’re making a friendly wager, be aware: the spread is 13.5, making it tough for the Pats to beat the spread.
  • Miami Dolphins at New York Jets – the cynics say that this could be the Jets’ chance for a win this season – their schedule only gets harder from here. Dolphins QB Jay Cutler, pulled back from retirement, has been playing reasonably well so far.
  • Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions – the Falcons are last year’s NFC champions, but the Lions are 2-0 and could surprise them at home; this is the only NFL match-up this week between two unbeaten teams.
  • New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles – the Giants were viewed as potential Super Bowl contenders just 14 days ago, and now are on the brink of an 0 – 3 start to the season.
  • Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals – this Monday night game gives the Cowboys a chance at redemption – they’re currently a disappointing 1 – 1 for the season, having suffered a humiliating loss to the Broncos last week. Running back Zeke Elliott is being questioned on how much effort he’s putting in, with his 6-game suspension making its way through the courts.
  • Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers – the Bengals are in trouble at 0-2, not having scored a touchdown yet this season (just field goals); but the Packers are down seven starting players due to injuries.

Team DandelionC did reasonably well in our friendly NFL pool last weekend, but Week 3 has started off with a heartbreaker: our pick, the LA Rams, won the game but didn’t cover the spread. We hate it when it that happens. We’ll do our best not embarrass ourselves with the rest of our picks. Go, Lions!

That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.

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