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TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk October 22, 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 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 sees the debut of our new Sports IQ Test.  From time to time, we’ll provide a short quiz so that you can test your sports knowledge and celebrate the progress you’re making in this foreign land. There’s a basic and an advanced edition, so everyone can play. The questions are at the end of this post, and the answers will be shared in next week’s TWIST. Good luck!

And now, 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 October 22, 2017:

1. NFL upsets continue. Must know: This season has proven, if anyone needed convincing, that any given Sunday, anyone can win. Last week was another series of surprises, late rallies and gobsmacked fans. Nice to know: The New York Giants finally won a game, and against a strong competitor – they defeated the Denver Broncos decisively last weekend, 23-10. Who knew that 1-5 could feel so good? Extra Credit: In Thursday night’s game, the Oakland Raiders came from behind and in the last seconds managed to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs – who had been unstoppable for the first 5 games of the season. It’s clearly the year of the underdog.

2. World Series begins on Tuesday. Must know: For the first time since 1988 (that’s 29 years), the LA Dodgers will play in the World Series; they defeated the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship. The Houston Astros clinched the American League title last night, winning Game 7 in Houston against the Yankees. Nice to know: Heading into the Series, here are two names to remember and casually mention in conversation: Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw (a three-time NL Cy Young winner) and Astros ace Justin Verlander (who has only been on the team for a month, having been traded from Detroit right before the post-season). Extra credit: While Yankees fans are disappointed, there is strong admiration for how far the team went this season, and how well the young players performed. For example, slugger Aaron Judge was on fire in the post-season: he made a number of key hits and key defensive plays. His rookie year has been an incredible story. Extra extra credit: The NBA’s LA Lakers’ President Magic Johnson is part of the ownership group that bought the Dodgers in 2012.

3. First week of the NBA season sees some surprises and injuries. Must know: The fearsome Golden State Warriors lost their opening game to the Houston Rockets, 121-122. They won their second game — but for a minute or two, they were at the bottom of the Western Conference.  You see? They’re not immortal. Nice to know: The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 105-84 on Thursday night in their first regular-season game with All-Star additions Paul George and Carmelo Anthony teaming up with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. Extra credit: Newly-signed by the Boston Celtics, Gordon Heyward is out for the season, having broken his tibia and dislocated his ankle only 5 minutes into the season opener. Ugh. Extra Extra Credit: Lonzo Ball of the LA Lakers is a rookie whose name you should know; he’s a 19-year old former UCLA star whose two younger brothers are also star basketball players. His father LaVar Ball trash-talked LeBron James’ son earlier this spring. This did not go over well with anyone. In Ball’s NBA debut this week against the LA Clippers, he scored only three points. But in his second game he scored 29 (and make some sweet three-pointers). People are buzzing about him — comparisons are already being made to Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.

If you have tennis aficionados to impress, casually note that this week Roger Federer beat Raphael Nadal to win the Shanghai Masters, reclaiming a bit of ground in his historic underperformance against Rafa (he’s still down 15- 23).

And if the sports fans you need to communicate with love college football, you can mention that this weekend marks the half-way point in the college football season. You can also mention that Wisconsin and TCU are still undefeated, and that the Nittany Lions of Penn State and the Lions of Columbia both won this weekend — the Detroit Lions are on a “bye” week, so sadly there can be no feline trifecta this weekend.

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:

  • #19 Michigan was defeated by #2 Penn State, 13-42, effectively eliminating the Wolverines from the Big 10 East title race; Penn State got its revenge for the blowout they got handed a year ago
  • #11 USC lost to #13 Notre Dame, 14-49, in a classic rivalry – the Fighting Irish now move into the top 10
  • Columbia defeated Dartmouth, 22-17the two teams were undefeated heading into this matchup; the Lions move into first place in the Ivy League

NFL Games:

  • Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles are unexpectedly the new favorites in the NFC (the Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers was injured during last week’s game), so this Monday Night game is an important matchup in the NFC East
  • Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers – These two teams have a history, and this a grudge match in the AFC North
  • Denver Broncos at LA Chargers – The Broncos lost at home last week, and the Chargers have two straight wins — whoever wins this one will keep their season hopes alive for at least one more week
  • Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots – this game is a rematch of Super Bowl 51; the Falcons are 0-5 in their last five games against the Pats (they blew a 28-3 lead in the third quarter of the Super Bowl and lost 34-28). The Falcons are the underdog — and so far, this has been the year of the underdog.

Test your Sports IQ! No cheating – can you answer these without involving Google?

Basic knowledge:

  1. The best college football player of the season wins what trophy?
  2. The Jaguars play in what sport and what city?
  3. Who are the top three all-time home run hitters in Major League Baseball?

Advanced intelligence:

  1. How many MLB players over 6’4” have hit more runs in one season than Aaron Judge?
  2. How many NFL starting quarterbacks other than Tom Brady have been over the age of 40?
  3. Which NBA team spent the most in the 2017 off-season in trades to strengthen their bench?
  4. Bonus round: who was the last player to win the MLB Triple Crown?

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

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

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