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Not a fan? How to get smart about sports right now

TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is our weekly recap of what you need to know to talk sports this week without having to fake it. If you want to join the conversation when the topic is sports, here are your talking points for the week of October 28, 2018.

We begin this week with a tip of the hat to the LA Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. The teams are locked in an epic battle in the World Series, and on Friday night they played the longest game ever in World Series history in LA: 7 hours and 20 minutes. 18 innings. The Dodgers won 3-2, after deploying 18 pitchers. ESPN shares the helpful statistic that this one game took longer than the entire 1939 World Series. The ‘39 series took 7 hours and 5 minutes to play all four games.

The LA Dodgers win Game 3 of the World Series Photo Courtesy USA Today Sports

Kudos as well to the LA Rams’ Todd Gurley, who has scored more touchdowns this season to date – 14 – than the entire rosters of 8 other teams: the Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and the Washington Redskins (all at 13), the Arizona Cardinals (at 12), the Oakland Raiders (at 11), the Tennessee Titans (at 9) and the Buffalo Bills (who have only touchdowns for the season 7). Dude! That’s freakin’ impressive.

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

For Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here are the happenings that you should know about for the week of October 28, 2018:

1. The World Series heats up. Must know: As of this posting, the Boston Red Sox lead the LA Dodgers 3-1 in the best-of-7 series. The Dodgers took a must-win game in an epic 7-hour plus match-up at home on Friday night. Nice to know: Games 5 is in LA this evening, and if the Sox win, the World Series is over. If they lose, Games 6 and 7 (if needed) will be in Boston. Extra Credit: Red Sox pitcher David Price has turned into the closer in this series, winning Game 2.

Dave Price of the Boston Red Sox closes the win for Game 2 of the World Series

2. Half-time in the National Football League (NFL) season. Must know: It’s Week 8, and we’re close to the half-way mark of the season. The LA Rams have the best record in the league: they’re undefeated at 7-0. The Kansas City Chiefs are 6-1, and the New England Patriots are surging — they’re 5-2, and they’ve won their last 4. After a dispiriting 0-3 start, the Houston Texans have now won 5 straight. Deshaun Watson has been on fire, and is clearly recovered from his torn ACL last season. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins won their first 3 games, and then proceeded to lose 4 of the next 5.

The LA Rams are undefeated so far this season

Nice to Know: The marquee match-up this weekend is a rematch between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. During last year’s division championship, the Vikings’ Stephon Diggs scored a 61-yard touchdown as time expired – the Vikings “stole” the win out from under the Saints. Sunday night they meet again in Minneapolis. Other games of note: After squeaking past the Chicago Bears last week (the Bears lost in dramatic fashion on the last play of the game, with Trubinski launching a Hail Mary pass that was completed, but 1 yard short, and the receiver was tackled before he could score), the New England Patriots visit the Buffalo Bills this weekend. The Pats are heavily favored, as they are 15 – 3 against the Bills over the past 9 years. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49’ers are 1 – 6, and over the next 3 weeks they face three other 1 – 6 teams: the Cardinals, the Raiders and the Giants.

The New Orleans Saints visit the Minnesota Vikings in a re-match of last year’s division championship game

Extra credit: Are the New York Giants waving the white flag after a 1-6 start? This week they traded Snacks Harrison to the Detroit Lions and Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints. Who’s next?  The same question applies to the Oakland Raiders: after head coach Jon Gruden signed his $100m contract, he promptly traded arguably the best defensive player in the league, Khali Mack, to the Chicago Bears. This week, he traded #1 receiver Amani Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys, and the rumor is that Derek Carr is next.

Jon Gruden, head coach of the Oakland Raiders

Bonus Round: If you find yourself deep in conversation with an NFL fan, here’s how you can summarize the season to date, based on the prognostications that were made at the start of the season.

Proven to be incorrect: The return of head coach Jon Gruden to the Raiders is a great move (instead, most would say it has been a dumpster fire); Quarterback Jimmy Garopolo will save the San Francisco 49ers and eclipse the master Tom Brady (instead, Garopolo is out injured for the rest of the season, and the 49ers are 1 – 6); Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are fighting tooth-and-nail and one or both will not be with the Patriots this coming season (instead, both are still there, winning a lot of games but still shaky on defense).

The New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and starting quarterback Tom Brady

Proven to be correct: The LA Rams will be very good (they’re undefeated as of this posting); the San Diego Chargers will be good (they are); Aaron Rogers will dominate (somewhat true – he has played well, but has been hurt and the Packers are not a great team); and the Chicago Bears will be good (and they are).

San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson Photo Credit: AP Images

3NCAA college football news. Must know: It’s Week 9. Nice to know: The game of the week is the SEC match-up of #9 Florida vs #7 Georgia. Extra credit: The other games to be aware of are #14 Washington State at #24 Stanford and #17 Penn State at #18 Iowa.

Some of our readers have asked why we don’t give more attention to the NHL, so here goes: yesterday was “Hockey Night in Canada,” with the Toronto Maple Leafs going for a 2-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, and the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Vancouver Canucks and trying to win all four games of their Canadian road trip (after defeating the Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames).

In pro golf, fans are talking about whether they want to pay $19.99 to watch The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on pay-per-view. It’s airing over Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s the first-ever golf tournament on pay-per-view.

Golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson meet in Las Vegas for the $10 million Match next month

And in the NBA, newly-minted LA Laker LeBron James (henceforth to be known in this column as LBJ) lost 2 of his first 3 three games, but the Lakers went on to win their last 2 games – and their first at home – with LBJ scoring a triple-double. In other Lakers news, there was a pre-game locker-room brouhaha this week with Radon Rondo of the Houston Rockets spitting in Chris Paul’s face. Rondo was suspended for 3 games and Paul for 2. There’s a history of bad blood between these two players. Meanwhile, Steph Curry scored 51 points in 3 quarters a game against the Washington Wizards this week.

The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry after scoring 51 points in 3 quarters against the Washington Wizards

Team Dandelion has two friendly sports wagers underway at the moment: our Red Sox are in the World Series. And we’re holding our own in our friendly NFL pool. Go Pats!

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