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The Best Sunday In A While

There’s a lot of sports this week so let’s get right into it:

NFL

I’m so excited that football (American Football) is back today and every Sunday for the next 20+ weeks that I can barely contain my excitement!!! Now officially the season started on Thursday with a game that looked closer on paper than it really was as the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-21 in Foxboro, MA. The other 30 teams play today and tomorrow to fully get the NFL season in full gear. I’ll have a review of the results next week but here are some storylines to look for in Week 1:

  1. Trash Talk – the Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers match-up is the oldest and most storied rivalry in football history with Packers coach, Mike McCarthy, saying the other week that they will “kick Chicago’s ass” … Green Bay may be an excellent football team (even though I despise them with every bone in my body) but remember, Da Bears seem to only play good at the beginning of the season so could there be an upset at Soldier Field today?
  2. Phoenix Rising – last year saw the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins take steps forward and look like solid teams, both have retained a lot of talent and added some key additions in the offseason and start off against teams who have been moving in the opposite direction in Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints, respectively.
  3. Bad Blood – the Sunday night game features 2 teams that have a fierce rivalry and usually one that sees quite a few flags and shoving matches between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants … who will come out on top this week?
  4. Invincible? – the Philadelphia Eagles made some splashes this offseason with trades and acquisitions but can Chip Kelly get everything to sync as he hopes or will the Atlanta Falcons spoil the party as they are consistently one of those teams we expect great things from but never really know who will show up


NCAA Football

Last week also saw the start of the NCAA College Football season. I was going to write about it last week but was a little distracted with my folks in town, Michigan losing and neglected to even touch base on it. Now I didn’t go to Michigan but they’ve always been my team. In fact my small little school in Central Illinois decided back in 1970 that academics needed to be a bigger focus so they disbanded their football team. While this was a bummer for anyone who enjoyed school spirit it just meant I got to travel a lot on the weekends to different college campuses to tailgate and experience their football life. However I’ll make up for last week with 2 weeks of upsets and highlights.

Week 1

  • #21 Stanford only mustered 6 points in a losing effort to Northwestern
  • Texas A&M took it to #15 Arizona State by beating them 38-17
  • #3 Alabama beat #20 Wisconsin 35-17 so while obviously not an upset I expected it to be a little closer of a game on a neutral field

Week 2 Upsets

  • #18 Arkansas went down to Toledo 16-12, quite an embarrassing loss for a program suspected to be on the rise
  • #20 Boise State fell to BYU, in Utah, by a score of 35-24
  • There were 2 close calls this week with #9 Notre Dame sneaking out with a victory over Virginia, 34-27, with a TD with :12 left in the game; #6 Auburn needed OT to defeat Jacksonville State 27-20 and also dodged a close call last week by only beating Louisville by 7

Other Info

  • #17 Ole Miss has absolutely been racking up points in their first two games outscoring their (lowly) opponents by a total of 149-24 with wins of 76-3 vs. University of Tennessee-Martin and 73-21 vs. Fresno State
  • #15 Georgia Tech is trying to keep up with a 2-game total of 134-16 with wins of 69-6 vs. Alcorn State and 65-10 vs. Tulane
  • Michigan got its 1st (of hopefully many) wins under the new Jim Harbaugh regime
  • While the top 5 (Ohio State, Alabama, TCU, Baylor, Michigan State) will remain the same, Michigan will most likely move up from the #5 spot with a well-fought victory over #7 Oregon yesterday
  • Notre Dame lost their starting QB to a broken ankle this week so it’ll be a tougher road than expected

Games To Watch Next Week

  • #6 Auburn vs. #14 LSU … always a good rivalry when they meet, can Auburn finally get on track against a better opponent this week?
  • #9 Notre Dame vs. #15 Georgia Tech … will Notre Dame rebound from both an emotional win last week on the road and the loss of their starting QB or will Georgia Tech continue scoring in bunches
  • #17 Ole Miss vs. #2 Alabama … even though Ole Miss has scored at will this season expect this to greatly calm down this week against a staunch Alabama D and team

Tennis

Next up in a very busy time in the sporting world is tennis and the US Open update. We’ve reached the final day and will see the match we expected for the Men’s Championship between #1 Novak Djokovic and #2 Roger Federer. These two always have some epic matches and a great rivalry has developed over the years. Also to note for the men is that Djokovic defeated Marin Cilic last round so there will not be a repeat champion on this side.

Now I happened to be up late on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning for me) to do a fantasy football draft and saw that the Venus/Serena match was on so I decided to watch it. It was a helluva match and one of the best I’ve seen in a while. They have now met 27 times and although Serena has a better win percentage it isn’t by much and Venus has always proven to be her toughest opponent. Serena holds a slight edge with a 16-11 advantage including her win on Tuesday in 3 hard-fought sets, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.


serena-venus-match


Unless you have been under a rock this past the last couple of days you know Serena, extremely unexpectedly, lost to unranked Roberta Vinci in the semis. Flavia Pannetta defeated Vinci in the Women’s Championship to win her first ever Grand Slam tournament victory. It will also be her last as she announced her retirement afterwards. Now getting back to Serena’s loss, while people still cannot believe it, there is a logical explanation … Drake.

That’s right, she’s now going out with the Toronto-born rapper Drake and has been hit by the Drake Curse. Don’t believe me, check out these stats:

  1. Toronto Raptors – Drake became their unofficial ambassador in 2013; they then got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round of both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons
  2. Kentucky Wildcats – last year they had a perfect, undefeated season going through the regular season when Drake hopped on the bandwagon; they got to the Final Four and lost to Wisconsin and Drake actually received a cease and desist order from them to not attend their games anymore
  3. Miami Heat – back to the NBA … when LeBron James was still leading the Heat to the NBA Finals in 2014 (after his Raptors got knocked out) he decided to root for them; they ended up losing to the San Antonio Spurs
  4. England National Team – who knew Drake was a football fan as well as he met-up and supported England striker Daniel Sturridge in 2014; shortly after England was bounced from the World Cup, not even getting out of the Group Play round

However you slice it though, tennis pun intended, this picture is still epic:


drake tennis ball


U.S. Soccer

Another embarrassing loss ensued for the USMNT as they went down 4-1 to Brazil this past week with the U.S. lone goal coming in stoppage time and not making anyone at home feel good about their huge upcoming match next month with Mexico. Luckily this one didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, except pride, so I won’t even dissect it and break this ugly match down. Let’s just hope they get back on track soon and figure out their woes.


usmnt-vs-brazil-at-gillette-stadium


Boxing

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has, very unsurprisingly, defeated Andre Berto in his last match ever to move to 49-0. That is “last match” until he gets offered a more ridiculous sum of money than he normally makes for less than an hour of work every few months. I mean he’s gotta get to 50-0 right … how can a man with his ego possibly go down in the record books as tied for the best record in boxing at 49-0 with the great Rocky Marciano?!

MLB

Finally we need to check in on baseball as we’re coming up to the end of the season rather quickly. Although not much has changed in the standings here’s a quick rundown of each division heading into the last 3 weeks of the regular season.

AL East – the Toronto Blue Jays are holding a lead on the New York Yankees; it seems one team will win the division and the other will get a Wild Card spot … that is unless Drake works his “magic” on his hometown Blue Jays

AL Central – the Kansas City Royals all but have this division locked up but the Minnesota Twins are still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot perhaps

AL West – the youth of the Houston Astros hasn’t wavered yet as they maintain their lead in the division however both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are within reach of the lead and there may be a Wild Card spot coming out of this division as well

NL East – the Washington Nationals have literally handed this division to the New York Mets on a silver platter over the last few weeks of implosion from a team who was picked by many to win it all or at least contend in the playoffs at the beginning of the season

NL Central – the St. Louis Cardinals are still the best team in baseball and will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs; the Pittsburgh Pirates are still holding onto 2nd place and a Wild Card spot and my Chicago Cubs remain in 3rd place with their Wild Card spot held firmly however they’re trying to overtake the Pirates to at least get home-field advantage

NL West – the San Francisco Giants just haven’t had the muster (and healthy players) to compete down the stretch this year when they usually shine and start their epic playoffs runs but the Los Angeles Dodgers look to be heating up and will win the division barring a massive breakdown

Plenty more sports stories to cover next week!

– Beard

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