Greetings sports fans, it's Chris Bengel back with you on this Tuesday morning. While getting through the workweek may be tough sometimes, one thing to take solace in is the fact that football is back.
We've got NFL preseason football a few nights out of the week and that is just tremendous. Many of the preseason games saw low scoring totals, which isn't exactly ideal. On the other hand, it's just awesome to have football back in our lives. In addition, we're just a few weeks from having both college football and the NFL back. There's truly nothing better than kicking back and watching two straight days of football over the weekend.
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Before we fully dive into what's happening, we have some breaking news to cover: Joel Embiid is sticking around in Philly. The star has agreed to an extension for four years, $196 million that will keep him with the 76ers through the 2026-27 season. As a huge Sixers fan, I'm ecstatic.
Now, let's dive right into the rest of the news!
📰 What you need to know
1. Reacting to the first AP Top 25 college football poll 🏈
The college football season is just a few short weeks away and that is simply a beautiful thing. It's so close that the first Associated Press poll came out on Monday. As always, that led to a ton of debate.
As should come as no surprise, Alabama will enter the season as the top team in all of the land. The Crimson Tide lost a ton of talent to the NFL as they normally do, including last year's starting quarterback Mac Jones. However, Alabama had star signal caller Bryce Young waiting in the wings and he is already being touted as one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy.
Following Alabama is Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia to round out the top five of the poll. The college landscape is expected to look quite a bit different with quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields moving on to the NFL ranks and forcing a changing of the guard under center at Clemson and Ohio State, respectively.
With the first poll being released, CBS Sports college football scribe Barrett Sallee weighed in with a few teams that he thinks are overrated and underrated. Here's one team from each side:
- Overrated - No. 7 Iowa State: "There's no doubt that the Cyclones are one of the chic picks to make a run at the College Football Playoff after returning a medium-sized village of starters including star running back Breece Hall and quarterback Brock Purdy. Let's tap the brakes on that just a bit, though. While the 'Clones will be a tough out yet again this year thanks to experience and the coaching acumen of Matt Campbell, ranking them ahead of more talented teams like Notre Dame and Oregon is just a tad bit aggressive. I had Iowa State in my CBS Sports 130 ballot. Nothing against Iowa State as a program ... I just don't see it playing at the same level as the big boys in 2021."
- Underrated - No. 16 LSU: "It seems like the world is skeptical of Tigers coach Ed Orgeron after last year's disaster, but this team is much closer to the 2019 version than it is to the 2020 version. Orgeron told me at SEC Media Days that he recognized the error of his ways and hired a staff that can install the same schemes that helped them win that national title. Max Johnson will be a star, Kayshon Boutte is the best healthy wide receiver in the country, the running back room is stout, four starters return on the offensive line and the 11 players on the defensive side of the ball won't have their heads spinning from ex-coordinator Bo Pelini's over-coaching that took place a year ago. LSU won't be a pushover -- it'll be a national title contender."
2. Cubs, Reds will reportedly play in 2022 Field of Dreams Game ⚾
Last week's Field of Dreams Game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees was a smashing success. The game, which was played in the corn fields of Dyersville, Iowa, was the first of its kind and provided several theatrics, including a walk-off home run from White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
It was a success for MLB that on Monday night, NBC Sports Chicago reported that the 2022 Field of Dreams Game will be between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. Shortly after last week's contest ended, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that there would be another edition of the game during the 2022 season. However, it was unclear what teams would be participating up until now.
It's definitely not surprising to see a Chicago team playing in the Field of Dreams Game once again, due to the city being the closest major market to Iowa. However:
- The Cubs may not exactly be the most appealing franchise after trading the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez at the deadline in an attempt to rebuild their roster
- On the other hand, the Reds are currently battling for a playoff spot and have a young, but very talented roster. Outfielder Jesse Winker has blossomed into one of the most dangerous power hitters in the game and Nick Castellanos has really found a home in Cincinnati
That being said, it will be tough for the 2022 version of the game to live up to what happened between the White Sox and Yankees.
3. Grading each NBA team's offseason 🏀
With the NBA Draft and free agency mostly in the books, the calendar is beginning to flip towards the 2021-22 season. Many of the league's top teams made moves in an attempt to position themselves for another deep postseason run.
Some of the bigger surprises of the playoffs were the fact that the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers all failed to reach the conference finals. As such, those teams have led the way in making changes ahead of next season.
The Lakers made huge changes to their roster as they traded for All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and also signed veterans like Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Meanwhile, the Nets and Sixers made minor changes in an effort to keep pace with the Bucks in the East.
CBS Sports NBA scribe Colin Ward-Henninger took a closer look at each team's offseason to date and handed out grades. Here are a few of the highlights of some of the league's upper-echelon teams:
- Brooklyn Nets: "By bringing back Bruce Brown and Blake Griffin while adding the veteran Patty Mills, the Nets look to be just as strong as a year ago, when they were the title favorites before injuries derailed their quest. They picked up a couple of talented rookies in Cameron Thomas and Day'Ron Sharpe, while adding some serious toughness in Jevon Carter, James Johnson and DeAndre' Bembry." Grade: A-minus
- Golden State Warriors: "Short of a blockbuster trade for Bradley Beal (who is currently unavailable), it's hard to imagine the offseason going much better for the Warriors. They got a potential future superstar in Jonathan Kuminga, a 3-and-D wing in Moses Moody, then loaded the bench with veterans, as was the stated goal of Bob Myers and the front office ... The Warriors should be right back in contention in the Western Conference if everyone is healthy..." Grade: A
- Los Angeles Lakers: "The Lakers basically swapped out their entire roster, highlighted by the acquisition of Westbrook. While it could lead to postseason issues, the addition gives the Lakers a nuclear ball of energy to get them through the regular season and take some of the playmaking pressure off of LeBron James, who will turn 37 in December ... As long as James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis are healthy, the Lakers are going to win a lot of games." Grade: A-minus
4. Our latest MLB Power Rankings ⚾
The trade deadline is in the past and the 2021 Major League Baseball season is coming down the home stretch. Division races are really heating up and some of the league's biggest contenders are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
CBS Sports baseball scribe Matt Snyder unveiled his latest edition of MLB Power Rankings following last week's action. The Giants topped Snyder's list and it's really hard to argue with that, as they have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 campaign.
As a Phillies fan, you can imagine that I wasn't the biggest fan of Gabe Kapler's tenure with the franchise. However, the third-year skipper really seems to have everything figured out in the Bay Area. The Giants currently lead the Los Angeles Dodgers by four games in the NL West.
Here's a rundown of the top 10 in this week's Power Rankings:
- 1. San Francisco Giants
- 2. Los Angeles Dodgers
- 3. Houston Astros
- 4. Milwaukee Brewers
- 5. Tampa Bay Rays
- 6. Oakland Athletics
- 7. Boston Red Sox
- 8. New York Yankees
- 9. Chicago White Sox
- 10. Toronto Blue Jays
📝 Odds & Ends
- United States women's soccer star Carli Lloyd announced her retirement from the sport on Monday. Lloyd will finish out the NWSL season and fall friendlies for the United States women's national team before calling it a career
- Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart agreed to a four-year, $77 million contract extension to remain with the team. Smart was set to become a free agent following the 2021-22 season
- Houston Rockets first round pick Jalen Green revealed that he wanted to be picked first in last month's NBA Draft. However, Green didn't want to play for the Detroit Pistons
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Red Sox vs. Yankees, 7:05 p.m. | NYY +110 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Athletics vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. | CWS +101 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Mets vs. Giants, 9:45 p.m. | SF -157 | TV: MLB.TV
Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅
One of the biggest head-scratching moves of the offseason was when the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Tim Tebow to compete at tight end. As many of you may remember, I wasn't ever a fan of Tebow as a quarterback, nevermind at a different position. On Saturday, Tebow saw his first preseason action at tight end against the Cleveland Browns. One of Tebow's only chances at a catch was a second quarter play in which Tavon Austin jumped in front of Tebow to record the reception. You almost have to feel for Tebow on a play like this where he probably thought he was hauling in a pass.