Welcome back to the grind, champ! We’ve got another week on our hands and it should be a pretty busy one. We’ve got football, playoff basketball, playoff baseball and the NHL Draft/offseason in full swing this week, so I’ll be keeping busy to keep you informed every morning.
I hope you got the chance to recharge those batteries over the weekend. I can report that my soul was slightly crushed having to watch Texas lose to TCU on Saturday but morale was boosted with the acquisition of a fire pit and new deck furniture. If everything is going to be shut down this winter, I’m committing to a backyard lifestyle regardless of the weather. Open invite to all the loyal newsletter subscribers out there.
Anyway, we’ve got plenty to get to this morning so get the coffee going and let’s sports.
📰 What you need to know
1. Week 4 NFL grades 🏈
Another Monday means another opportunity for us to dive into what went down in the NFL yesterday. Week 4’s slate is (mostly) behind us and, while there were a few less games than initially scheduled on Sunday (we’ll get to that), there’s still plenty to dissect. Let’s jump into some takeaways and grades.
- Vintage Drew Brees shines in Saints (A-) win: It’s been a tough start to the season for the Saints and we’ve had to question whether Brees might be starting to lose his fastball in his old age. Well, it didn’t look like it yesterday against the Lions (D), even without Michael Thomas in the lineup. Brees got picked early but rebounded for a great day, throwing for 246 yards and two touchdowns. The running game was also excellent
- Browns (A+) explode offensively vs. Cowboys (D-): The Cowboys had a great start to the day and Dak Prescott threw for over 500 yards, but their own defense got obliterated. Cleveland forced a couple of big turnovers and then dismantled the Dallas defense to the tune of 49 points, even after losing Nick Chubb early in the game. Odell Beckham had himself a day, snagging two touchdowns in the win
- Bills (A) stay undefeated with win over Raiders (C): The Raiders imploded late and the Bills remained unbeaten with a 30-23 win in Las Vegas. Josh Allen had another big day, throwing for 288 yards (115 of those going to Stefon Diggs) and two touchdowns
We’ve got grades and analysis for all the other games as well, including last night’s Sunday Night Football showdown between the Eagles and the 49ers. It wasn’t particularly the most alluring game on the schedule — the Eagles have been bad and the 49ers are super banged up — but it turned out to be pretty entertaining nonetheless. Also, it’s insane that the Eagles picked up their first win in Week 4 and yet also moved into sole possession of first place in the division. Are you kidding me? LOL NFC East.
2. Patriots-Chiefs gets rescheduled for Monday night 🏈
Hope you didn’t get too full on football yesterday because we’ve got a double-header for Monday Night Football tonight. That wasn’t always the plan but yesterday’s Patriots-Chiefs game had to be rescheduled after Cam Newton tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday. Thanks to that bit of unfortunate news, we’ve got a busy Monday ahead of us. Here’s what you need to know:
- Patriots and Chiefs will kick off at 7 p.m. on CBS while the original MNF game (Falcons-Packers) will be moved back to 8:50 p.m. ET
- All of the tests taken on Saturday and Sunday from Patriots players have come back negative
- The Patriots will travel to Kansas City Monday morning using two planes. About 20 people who have been in close contact with Newton will take one flight, while the rest of the team will take the other
- Both teams will be tested before the game
- Brian Hoyer is expected to be the Patriots’ starting QB
So, just to recap, the Pats are flying on the morning of a game and going up against the reigning Super Bowl champs on the road with Hoyer starting? Screw the six rings…if Bill Belichick manages to pull this off it might be his most impressive accomplishment yet.
As for what’s next for Cam, our Tyler Sullivan has a comprehensive breakdown of the situation and how it’s all playing out. Obviously, it’s not an ideal development for Newton (especially in the middle of his resurgence during a contract year) or an ideal situation for the Patriots, but the good news is that it seems to be relatively contained right now. As a Pats fan myself, I’m fully expecting tonight’s game to be a mess but as long as the team isn’t in shambles I’ll chalk it up as a moral victory and move on,
Okay, hand up…I said the Lakers were going to sweep the Heat and that prediction has the stench of spoiled milk this morning. That’s because Miami is back in business thanks to a stunning 115-104 win in Game 3 last night. Even without two of their best players (Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo), Miami brought a gutsy performance and now all of a sudden it’s a series again.
- The Butler did it: Jimmy Butler had an incredible night on Sunday and it couldn’t have come at a better time. In the most important game of his career, Butler had 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists — making him only the third player in NBA history to have a 40-point triple-double in a Finals game (LeBron James and Jerry West are the other two)…and he’s the only one of them to do it in a win
- LeBron hits the showers: It was a great night for Butler but not so much for LeBron, who was clearly frustrated with how things played out. James didn’t have the best night (eight turnovers) and he ended up walking off the court with about 10 seconds left on the clock and headed straight to the locker room while the Lakers had to sub in Jared Dudley in order to finish the game with five players. There might be some takes about that this morning
- Bad night for Anthony Davis: AD has been great for LA at many points during this postseason but he had one of the worst playoff performances of his career last night. He got in early foul trouble and was just out of sync all night, finishing with 15 points
- Boards and the paint: The Lakers only had six second-chance points in Game 3 after scoring 37 combined in the first two games of the series. The Heat also limited the Lakers to 34 points in the paint, compared to L.A.’s playoff average of 48.4.
- Killer Kelly: Kelly Olynyk did a good job of stepping up in Adebayo’s absence and he’s now put together back-to-back strong performances for Miami. He had 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals and hit 3-of-5 3-pointers on Sunday night
The biggest takeaway is obviously Butler, who did and said all the right things to put the team on his back yesterday. Not only did he put up an incredible stat line, he also brought a whole lot of swagger for Miami and injected some intensity into the series. The guy seems incredibly passionate about winning and proving people wrong, and our Brad Botkin says last night’s showing was just another example of Butler validating his place among the game’s elite.
Video: The Rush: Despite going full Lamar, Darnold can’t lead Jets to first win (Yahoo! Sports)
4. More MLB playoff predictions ⚾
The MLB playoffs resume today as we head into the best-of-five Division series round. This is where we’d lead off under normal playoff circumstances but 2020 is anything but normal, and this isn’t really going to be business as usual. The Division Series will all be played in neutral sites: the AL will play in San Diego and Los Angeles, while the NL plays in Arlington and Houston.
We’ve got some intriguing series to look forward to, so let’s get some predictions from our baseball crew:
- Yankees vs Rays: Our crew is split on this one, with three votes going to each team. Each of our six writers predicted the series to go the full five games
- Astros vs. Athletics:Oakland is the unanimous pick here
- Padres vs. Dodgers: The Dodgers are also a unanimous pick
- Marlins vs. Braves: Our Mike Axisa was the only one to pick the Marlins
You can check out the full breakdowns right here before first pitch later today.
As another round is set to begin, I will say this: At a time when uncertainty flows like wine and everyone wants to argue about everythng, I very much enjoy that we can still share one common idea that unites us and puts us all on the same team. Of course, I’m talking about rooting exceptionally hard for whatever team is playing the Astros.
Don’t let us down, Oakland.
📝 Odds & Ends
📺 What to watch tonight
🏈Patriots vs. Chiefs, 7 p.m. | KC -10.5 | TV: CBS
⚾ Yankees vs. Rays, 8:07 p.m. | TB +130 | TV: TBS
🏈 Falcons vs. Packers, 8:50 p.m. | GB -7 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
💵 Winning Wagers:
💵 Winning Wagers:
💵 Winning Wagers: