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Hello sports fans, it's Shanna McCarriston back again for my last newsletter of the week. Today we have an exciting one. We'll kick things off by discussing last night's game between the Cardinals and the Dodgers, where the defending World Series champs reigned supreme on their home field.

There's also some football on tonight, and we all know when there's an NFL game I have to discuss it. We have all that and more, so let's not waste any more time.

📰 What you need to know

1. Chris Taylor sends Dodgers into NLDS with late heroics ⚾

The NL Wild Card Game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals was a close one, so close that it came down to the bottom of the ninth inning. That's ultimately when the Dodgers got it done, courtesy of a two-run, walk-off home run by Chris Taylor to win 3-1.

St. Louis struck first with a run from Tommy Edman and would keep a 1-0 lead until the fourth inning when the home team answered with a run of their own. It was Justin Turner who tied it with a solo home run for the defending World Series champions, and with the blast he became the Dodgers' all-time postseason home run leader with 13.

The score would stay at 1-1 all the way up until the ninth inning. Here is a deeper look and some takeaways from it all:

  • Taylor's home run will be remembered forever: With his home run to end it, Taylor became the first player to hit a walk-off home run in elimination game since Edwin Encarnacion did it for the Blue Jays in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game. And if you want even more perspective, he is the first National Leaguer to hit a walk-off homer in a winner-take-all postseason game since ... Bill Mazeroski did it for the Pirates all the way back in the 1960 World Series. It's just the fifth walk-off homer in a winner-take-all playoff game in all of MLB history
  • The Cardinals had multiple chances to break it open: We can be brief here, because this single stat says it all. The Cardinals left 24 runners on base and went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position
  • The bid for a Dodgers repeat is alive: How historic would it be if the Dodgers kept this going and won it all again? Well, no team has repeated as World Series champs since the Yankees won it in 1999 and 2000. No National League squadron has repeated since the Reds in 1975 and 1976

The Dodgers will now go on to face the San Francisco Giants, who won the most games in the majors, in the National League Division Series on Friday.

2. Thursday Night Football preview: Stafford vs. Wilson will be fun to watch 🏈


Thursday Night Football games are not always known for being the most riveting or featuring top teams, but this week we have two top tier quarterbacks facing off in an exciting NFC showdown. The 2-2 Seattle Seahawks are hosting the 3-1 Los Angeles Rams.

CBS Sports Pete Prisco's score prediction is Rams 30, Seahawks 19. The latest odds are currently at Rams -2.5.

This will be the first time Matthew Stafford is seeing the Rams-Seahawks rivalry first hand, though he says it was always something that was apparent to him.

  • Stafford: "I could feel it from afar when I wasn't here. You just know that there are two teams that have a bunch of pride. They both play at a high level. Really well-coached teams with a bunch of recent success. So, I'm excited to be a part of it. It's exciting to get my first taste of it."

Stafford has never won at Lumen Field before, but the Rams typically play well in Seattle, even with the 12th man's booming crowd noise. The Rams are coming off their first loss of the season, which came to the Cardinals. On the other hand, the Seahawks most recently snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over the 49ers.

I think the Rams will come away with this one, but I do think Russell Wilson and company keeps it interesting. 

3. Grading the Stephon Gilmore trade 🏈

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Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is headed to the Carolina Panthers after it was reported yesterday that the New England Patriots would release the former Defensive Player of the Year unless a trade took place. The Patriots got a 2023 sixth-round pick in exchange for the star cornerback.

Gilmore has not played for the Patriots this year due to a torn quad and will not be eligible to to come off of the physically unable to perform list until Week 7. Despite not being able to play for a few weeks, the Panthers know what Gilmore is capable of, and he will bring a lot to their secondary. In Gilmore's absence, Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, who always seems to find himself high on the list of most interceptions in the league, has been a go-to guy.

With most trades, there is one team who is the clear winner and this is no different. Let's take a look at trade grades for each side of the deal, courtesy of our own Jordan Dajani:

  • Panthers: A -- The Panthers have the No. 3 defense in the league, but first-round pick corner Jaycee Horn and safety Juston Burris both are hurt, so adding to their secondary is not surprising. This is a great move for the them
  • Patriots: D+ -- Getting a sixth-round pick is better than getting nothing, but it's not what you would expect to get for a player of Gilmore's caliber

In this case, the team's grades are not even close to each other and, in a season with so many changes, the Patriots could've used the stability of a shut-down corner like Gilmore. The Panthers, meanwhile, are off to a hot start and are now getting even more help.

4. The top questions the Yankees need to answer this offseason ⚾


It's been two days and more baseball has been played since, but we need to talk about the Yankees. They were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night. Boston was in control the entire time, winning 6-2. The Yankees looked like they never even had a shot to win, part of which was thanks to Gerrit Cole having the shortest start of his career.

The game was another frustrating end to a season for the franchise and you now have to wonder what serious changes they will make so this stops happening year after year.

  • Aaron Judge: "We just didn't get the job done, all season long. We've got to keep working. Individually and as a team, there's a lot of things that we need to continue to work on and continue to improve to push us to the next level. So I guess it's back to the drawing board."

Back to the drawing board, indeed. Coming into the season as AL East favorites, only to fall into the second wild-card spot that they didn't earn until Game 162, is not going to make people happy. This leaves multiple questions as they head into their offseason. 

Here are some of those questions, courtesy of our MLB scribe Mike Axisa:

  • What is Boone's future?: Manager Aaron Boone said he wasn't worried about his job security, but with his underperforming team and the way they lost the Wild Card Game, his future in New York is not guaranteed
  • What is Judge's future?: Judge has one season left of arbitration-eligibility and then he qualifies for free agency. The Yankees aren't big on extensions, with only six in the last two decades. He wants to be a Yankee for life, but that doesn't mean he will be
  • What happens with the infield?: The infield could use a shake up and changes at any position could be coming. They were middle of the road or worse at each infield position each year

📝 Odds & Ends

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📺 What to watch tonight

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⚾ MLB Playoffs: White Sox vs. Astros, 4:07 p.m. | HOU -130 | TV: FS1

⚾ MLB Playoffs: Red Sox vs. Rays, 8:07 p.m. | TB -160 | TV: FS1

🏈 Rams vs. Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. | SEA +2.5 | TV: FOX

🏅 Best thing I saw on the internet

Last night, the Chicago Sky punched their ticket to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2004. The Sky defeated the Connecticut Sun 79-69 in Game 4 to give them their third win of the series. This is Candace Parker's first year with Chicago and she is already leading them to the biggest stage. The celebration and excitement from the team and their fans could be felt from the screen.

Chicago will play the winner of the Las Vegas Aces-Phoenix Mercury series.