Good morning sports fans, it's Chris Bengel back with you once again. I hope everybody had a great weekend filled with fantasy football triumphs and winning bet slips.
For me, it's been a week that I'd care to forget when it comes to the sports world. In the span of seven days, I got to see my Philadelphia Eagles lose twice, Maryland football get embarrassed by Iowa and the Philadelphia Phillies miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. I don't think that it gets much worse than that.
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I'd say that I have the Philadelphia 76ers to look forward to, but there's the Ben Simmons drama when it comes to that. I believe that 2021 may be one of the worst calendar years that Philadelphia sports has ever seen. I don't expect the misery to stop anytime soon, but hey, maybe the Philadelphia Flyers will surprise everyone with their new-look roster.
Anyway, let's dive into the sports news.
📰 What you need to know
1. Breaking down the AL Wild Card Game ⚾
It's finally here. The Boston Red Sox will host the New York Yankees -- two teams that ... have some history -- in the American League Wild Card Game tonight. The Yankees will trot out their ace Gerrit Cole while the Red Sox will send Nathan Eovaldi to the bump in the winner-take-all contest, the first of the 2021 MLB playoffs. Cole has had his fair share of struggles as of late with a total of 15 earned runs allowed over his last three starts.
Courtesy of CBS Sports baseball scribe R.J. Anderson, here are a few things to know heading into tonight's Yankees-Red Sox matchup:
- J.D. Martinez's status is up in the air: "Martinez's exact status remains up in the air, but it's fair to think his ankle will continue to limit his mobility in the near term. It could also impact his swing. Boston manager Alex Cora said Martinez's status was still questionable on Tuesday, a little more than 24 hours before first pitch"
- Cole will have personal catcher: "Kyle Higashioka has served as Cole's personal catcher throughout their shared time in New York. This season, Higashioka caught Cole in 27 of his 30 starts. The two have a career 2.94 ERA as a tandem, as opposed to the 3.64 mark Cole has with Gary Sánchez. Part of the difference can be explained as a small sample, and part of it can be attributed to Higashioka's superior framing: he ranked in the 87th percentile this season, according to Statcast. Sánchez, for his part, ranked in the 17th percentile."
Yankees/Red Sox has been series of streaks: "This season's edition of the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry has been defined by streaks. Boston won the first seven head-to-head contests. The Yankees have since reeled off wins in nine of their last 12 meetings, including each of the last six. The Yankees have outscored the Red Sox by a 31-14 margin in those six games, a span that includes a sweep at Fenway Park from Sept. 24-26. The Red Sox have been held to three runs or fewer in each of those six games."
With the MLB postseason set to get underway, everyone makes crazy predictions as to what is going to happen over these final weeks of the 2021 campaign. With prognostications in mind, CBS Sports baseball scribe Mike Axisa laid out some bold predictions of his own for the postseason. He has some great ones in there, but I'll leave you with one that pertains to Red Sox vs. Yankees:
- There will be a Wild Card Game walk-off: "Our first bold prediction this postseason calls for the third ever Wild Card Game walk-off. We know the matchups -- Yankees at Red Sox and Cardinals at Dodgers -- and Cardinals at Dodgers feels more chaos-y to me. We've seen enough Yankees-Red Sox games to know those two teams tend to play (very) long back-and-forth games, though there's often a clear victor."
2. Chargers hand Raiders first loss of season 🏈
And then there was one. The previously unbeaten Las Vegas Raiders suffered their first loss of the season as they were defeated by the Los Angeles Chargers, 28-14, last night. The Chargers rode the back of star running back Austin Ekeler, who rushed for 117 yards and added a pair of touchdowns in the win.
The big story was the fact that the Chargers raced out to a big 21-0 lead in the first half. Here's a look at how the Chargers gained such a large advantage:
- The Chargers capped off a 12-play with quarterback Justin Herbert finding tight end Donald Parham Jr. in the back of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown
- Herbert continued his connection with his tight ends as he found Jared Cook for a 10-yard touchdown with 4:21 remaining in the second quarter
- Just before halftime, Herbert threw the ball to Ekeler on a wheel route for a 14-yard touchdown
However, the Raiders definitely didn't pack it in by any stretch. Las Vegas owned the third quarter as they scored two touchdowns to cut the deficit to 21-14. Quarterback Derek Carr tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on a picture-perfect throw. With just 1:44 left in the third quarter, Raiders tight end Darren Waller was able to showcase why he's one of the top tight ends that the NFL has to offer. Carr threw a jump ball to Waller in the corner of the end zone and Waller brought it down with ease.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, that was as close as they would get. The Chargers defense really stepped up in the fourth quarter when they needed to. Carr was picked off by Derwin James late in the fourth quarter when the Raiders were attempting to make a comeback. For more analysis of the contest, check out what our CBS Sports NFL scribes had to say about the action.
The AFC West is going to be a fun race throughout the season. After a less-than-stellar start, the Kansas City Chiefs sit at 2-2 in last place while the Chargers, Raiders, and Denver Broncos are all 3-1.
3. Bubba Wallace makes NASCAR history at Talladega 🏎
Bubba Wallace became just the second Black NASCAR driver to record a Cup Series victory on Monday. Wallace was declared the winner of the YellaWood 500 at Talladega due to the rain preventing the racetrack from dying. The Talladega race had completed 118 of 188 laps prior to Wallace being declared the victor.
With the win, Wallace joins NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott as the only two Black drivers to wins a Cup Series race. Scott won a Cup Series race in Jacksonviile in December 1963 and ended up being declared the winner due to a scoring issue that was announced after the conclusion of the race.
Here's what Wallace had to say about his win:
- Wallace: "It brings a lot of emotion, a lot of joy to my family, fans, friends -- It's pretty damn cool. Just proud to be a winner in the Cup Series. This is to all those kids out there that want to have an opportunity in whatever they want to achieve and be the best at what they want to do."
For Wallace, Talladega is a track in which he has some history with. In June 2020, a rope that appeared tied in the shape of a noose was discovered in Wallace's garage. However, an investigation proved that no racial crime had been committed as the rope had been there long before race weekend got underway. Wallace gained an even larger following after the incident occurred, and his win on Monday is a huge moment for NASCAR.
4. NFL teams that you should be sorry for doubting 🏈
I'm learning to expect the unexpected with what we've seen through the first four weeks of the NFL season. Tom Brady made his way back to New England for the first time since leaving the team and, like many others, I assumed that the Buccaneers were the better team. However, the Patriots had a chance to win the game in the final minute, but Nick Folk clanged a 56-yard field goal off the upright to give the Buccaneers the narrow victory.
Then you have the other end of the spectrum with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has been an absolute disaster in his first NFL season as the team has lost the first four games of his tenure. Meyer just looks absolutely defeated.
I will admit that one team I was wrong about is the Dallas Cowboys. I assumed the Cowboys defense would be a sieve and give up a ton of points. And I wasn't sure how quarterback Dak Prescott would rebound from that horrific ankle injury.
Like myself, CBS Sports NFL scribe Will Brinson offered a series of apologies to teams that he had incorrect projections about prior to the season. Let's check out a few:
- Sorry Cowboys: "I'm still unsure whether I need to issue an apology to Mike McCarthy -- let's see a full season and maybe postseason's worth of game management before making that call -- but this Cowboys team as a whole deserves a sorry for sure. I thought there was a chance Dallas could finish in the basement of the NFC East if the Cowboys couldn't fix the defense and/or the offense looked like it did during the first four weeks of 2020. Yeah, the numbers were there, but it was mostly in garbage time."
- Sorry Cardinals: "Murray leads the NFL in completion percentage (76.1 percent) after completing more than 75 percent of his passes for a third straight game and just hung 37 on a highly-regarded Rams defense, the most L.A. has given up since 2019. Arizona flexed on the Titans, Vikings and Jaguars to start the season. Sunday was different. A road game in the division as a 4.5-point underdog, against a very good defense and Kyler and Co. plopped 37 on Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey."
- Sorry Jaguars: "Oh wait. That's not me apologizing. That's Urban Meyer saying sorry."
📝 Odds & Ends
- Federal law enforcement conducted a raid at the Washington Football Team's facility last week. Head trainer Ryan Vermillion has also been placed on administrative leave due to a criminal investigation
- The New York Mets fired manager Luis Rojas after two losing seasons with the franchise. Despite having high expectations in 2021, the Mets finished the season with a 77-85 record
- Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey announced that No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham still hasn't returned to practice after rolling his ankle. Cunningham suffered the injury in training camp earlier this month
- San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan revealed that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo "has a chance" to play against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5. Garoppolo suffered a calf contusion that caused him to miss the second of Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Yankees vs. Red Sox , 8:08 p.m. | NYY -121 | TV: ESPN
🏅 Best thing I saw on the internet
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about the show that is sweeping the world known as "Ted Lasso." Whether you're a soccer fan or not, this show is absolutely phenomenal and you need to be watching it. Anyway, Ted Lasso focuses on an English soccer club and there are plenty of soccer references throughout the series. Now there will be a whole lot more. On Monday, it was reported that the series reached a licensing agreement with the Premier League that will allow Premier League mentions, footage, logos and jerseys to be used in Ted Lasso episodes. This will make the series even better than it already is, which seems impossible.