Not for nothing, but the final week of 2020 is shaping up to be a pretty good one for us sports fans. We kicked off the week with some NFL action last night, though it was a bit of a humiliating affair -- we'll get to that in a bit. We've got some good college football bowl games tonight, plus some college basketball. We're now a week into the NBA season. We've got spicy MLB trades. And, yes, there's even World Junior Championship action for my fellow hockey fans.
A little something for everyone to close out the year ... not bad, huh? But sorry, 2020 -- it's too late in the game for a comeback.
Let's take advantage of all this content and enjoy it over some coffee this morning.
📰 What you need to know
1. Padres continue to add pitching, acquire Yu Darvish ⚾
For the second straight day, I come bearing news of the San Diego Padres trading for a big-name starting pitcher. On Sunday night, it was Blake Snell from the Rays. On Monday night, it was Yu Darvish from the Cubs.
That's right ... the Padres managed to add Snell and Darvish to their rotation in a matter of 24 hours and they did so without giving up their best prospect. Here are the details from the Darvish deal:
- Padres get: RHP Yu Darvish, C Victor Caratini
- Cubs get: RHP Zach Davies and four prospects (SS Reginald Preciado, OF Owen Caissie, OF, Ismael Mena, SS Yeison Santana)
Darvish, 34, is coming off a great year in which he finished as runner-up for the NL Cy Young. He's owed $59 million over the next three seasons, which is why the Cubs were looking to dump him in the first place as they retool.
As for the Padres ... well, damn. They're certainly going for it, huh? I suppose these are the kind of bold strikes you have to make when you compete in the same division as the stacked Dodgers. Considering the strides that San Diego made last season and the fact that they'll be heading into 2021 with Snell, Dinelson Lamet and Darvish at the top of their rotation? It should be one hell of a battle out west.
It's also important to remember that the Padres are due to get Mike Clevinger back in 2022, so this isn't exactly a one-year plan. (They also have top pitching prospect Mackenzie Gore waiting to make the jump in the next few years.) The Padres spent a long time being one of the more forgettable franchises in baseball, but that's certainly not the case now. They were one of the most exciting young teams in the league last year -- headlined by a legitimate young superstar in Fernando Tatis Jr. -- and this offseason is only adding to the hype.
2. Bills crush Patriots on MNF 🏈
For the first time since 1999, the Buffalo Bills have swept the New England Patriots in a season series. And for the first time since 2000, the Patriots are going to finish a season with a losing record.
Those two things were locked in last night when the Bills absolutely throttled the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Buffalo smoked the Pats by a final tally of 38-9 ... and, as a Patriots fan myself, the beating was even worse than the scoreline suggests. Buffalo got off to a bit of a slow start and provided a glimmer of hope that the game would be competitive, but those hopes were dashed when Buffalo's offense woke up.
Let's get some game takeaways from Tyler Sullivan:
Why Buffalo won
- Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs had their magic going once again. They connected nine times for 145 yards and three touchdowns
- Buffalo played aggressive and did so effectively. They went 3-3 on fourth downs -- including a fake punt in the first quarter
- The offense racked up 474 yards, went 4-5 in the red zone and didn't turn the ball over at all
Why New England lost
- The defense had trouble pressuring Allen and defending the pass, especially once the Bills got going. In the middle two quarters, Buffalo scored a touchdown on four-straight drives
- The Patriots' passing game was brutal once again. Cam Newton went 5-10 and managed just 34 yards through the air before being pulled in favor of Jarrett Stidham in the third quarter. Stidham didn't fare much better, going 4-11 for 44 yards
- They had to abandon the run after letting the game get away from them
The big talk this morning will be the performances from Allen and Diggs, both of whom set some pretty significant franchise records as they put on a show last night. Allen set a new single-season franchise record for most TDs thrown by a Bills QB (34), while Diggs set a new single-season team record for receiving yards (1,459).
Is it possible to have a statement win in Week 16? Because that showing felt like a statement game from Buffalo. The Bills rolled into Foxborough -- a place that hasn't treated them particularly well over the past few decades -- and showed no mercy. In a rather Belichick-ian approach, they ran up the score and flexed their might.
Handing New England their worst home loss (and second-worst loss overall) during the Belichick era? That effectively sends a message. The Bills are scary, and now they hold the No. 2 seed in the AFC with one game left.
3. What is next for Dwayne Haskins? 🏈
Well, you're clear to declare the Haskins pick a bust for the Washington Football Team. It's been trending in that direction for a while now, but Washington all but made it official yesterday when they cut the quarterback less than two years after selecting him in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The decision to cut Haskins comes amid a tumultuous year in Washington, both on and off the field. He was stripped of his team captaincy being spotted in a strip club without a mask a few weeks ago, and in his final game for Washington delivered a brutal performance. He was eventually replaced (and outplayed) by Taylor Heinicke, a former XFL quarterback.
What might be next for Haskins? Our Jeff Kerr has laid out some potential landing spots that would make sense for the young QB as he looks to salvage his NFL career.
- Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger is the starting QB for now but he's seemingly nearing the end of his career and the Steelers have no potential successor in the pipeline. Haskins has potential and he could be a project worth undertaking in Pittsburgh
- Rams: It's never been more clear that LA could use some quarterback help. Jared Goff is sidelined due to a thumb surgery and he'll be replaced by John Wolford, a former AAF quarterback who has never taken a snap in the NFL. Haskins could provide more insurance behind Goff and potentially even challenge him down the road
- Seahawks: Seattle could take a flyer on Haskins to develop him as a long-term insurance policy for Russell Wilson. The Seahawks have been known to take risks on players and Haskins could thrive in that system, especially under Wilson's guidance
- Titans: Just look at what Mike Vrabel and the Titans were able to do for Ryan Tannehill, another QB that was looking to revitalize his career a few years ago. A year in Tennessee would likely do wonders for Haskins as Tannehill's backup -- and he would be an upgrade over Logan Woodside.
As for Washington, seems like it's probably safe to add them to the list of teams that might be active during this offseason's quarterback frenzy.
4. Our latest NBA Power Rankings 🏀
The opening week of the 2020-21 NBA season is in the books and it's been pretty eventful, hasn't it? We've seen some dominant performances, some exciting finishes and a few baffling losses. What more could you want out of the gate?
The only appropriate answer to that question is ... Power Rankings. Lucky for you, our Colin Ward-Henninger has put together an initial set of rankings based simply on what we've seen through the first week of action. Here's his top 10:
There are some surprising teams in there but, again, this is only based off what we've seen through the first week. (Though, with that in mind, the Clippers losing one of their three games by 51 points and still cracking the top 10 is pretty impressive.) The list will likely look a lot different next week, and the week after that, and perhaps the week after that. I think we're all expecting this season to be pretty unpredictable and that has certainly been the case already through the first week.
You can check out the full set of rankings right here.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a partially torn ACL and will miss the remainder of this season
- Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist will undergo open heart surgery
- The NBA fined 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey $50K for tampering after a since-deleted automated tweet about James Harden
📺 What to watch today
🏈 Cheez-It Bowl: No. 21 Oklahoma State vs. No. 18 Miami, 5:30 p.m. | MIA +1 | TV: ESPN
🏀 Bucks vs. Heat, 7:30 p.m. | MIA +5.5 | TV: TNT
🏈 Alamo Bowl: No. 20 Texas vs. Colorado, 9 p.m. | COL +7.5 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
Josh Allen had 320 passing yards and four touchdowns.
💵 Winning wagers: BUF -7, Push (47)
The Nets suffered their second straight loss as they played without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant. Ja Morant suffered a sprained ankle in the win.
💵 Winning wagers: MEM -2.5, Under (227.5)
Damian Lillard scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half and CJ McCollum had 20 points and 11 assists.
💵 Winning wagers: POR +194, Under (229)
Eric Ayala scored 17 points for the Terrapins in the big-time upset.
💵 Winning wagers: MARYLAND +412, Over (132.5)