What's going on sports fans? It's Chris Bengel back with you once again. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there won't be any football today for the first time since Thursday. Trust me, I'm upset too.
The NFL season got off to a chaotic start with several surprise results -- and nothing was more chaotic than the final game of Week 1 last night (we'll talk more about that in a minute). I was extremely pleased that my Philadelphia Eagles came out and stomped the Atlanta Falcons on the road. The Jalen Hurts/DeVonta Smith connection got off to a great start as Smith got the scoring started for the Eagles. After just four wins in 2020, it was a welcome sight to start off the year.
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We'll have plenty of NFL news throughout this installment of our morning newsletter, so let's get into it!
📰 What you need to know
If you thought Sunday's NFL games were absolute bedlam, I raise you the Monday Night Football contest between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders spent the majority of the game trailing, but still managed to come away with a hard-fought 33-27 win in overtime.
The two teams really provided some sensational theater over the course of the final minutes of regulation:
- After Lamar Jackson led the Ravens down the field, Justin Tucker connected on a 47-yard field goal to give the Ravens a three-point lead with just 42 seconds left
- However, the drama didn't stop there as the Raiders got into position for Daniel Carlson to drill a 55-yard field goal to send the game to overtime
Then overtime got really nuts:
- The Raiders appeared to win following a 33-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards. Players and coaches from both sides thought the game was over
- But after review, the Edwards score was overturned and he was ruled down at the 1-yard line. Derek Carr then threw an interception in the end zone
- The Ravens got the ball back, but Jackson fumbled and Las Vegas recovered
- On the ensuing drive, Carr threw a game-winning touchdown to Zay Jones
Regardless of who you were rooting for, this game really had it all: defensive stands, clutch kicking and unexpected heroes. Edwards really helped the Raiders to the victory with several impressive catches down the stretch. Darren Waller also exacted some revenge on his former team with a 10-catch performance. If this is any indication of the NFL season to come, we're in for a wild ride.
For more info on what was a wild game, check out our takeaways from Las Vegas.
2. Takeaways from Week 1 of the NFL season 🏈
I think it's safe to say that we all missed football. Lucky for us, Week 1 of the NFL season produced a lot of unexpected outcomes and some pure insanity.
To me, the biggest surprise had to be the Pittsburgh Steelers upsetting the Buffalo Bills. It's worth noting that the Steelers did win their first 11 games of the 2020 regular season before dropping five of their final six -- including a Wild Card Round loss to the Cleveland Browns. The shade was thrown at veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who returned for his 18th NFL season, for his play down the stretch last year.
However, Roethlisberger turned in a gutsy performance in a 23-16 win over the Bills and received some help from a stellar defensive effort. But enough about what I think. To put a bow on the opening week of the NFL season, CBS Sports NFL scribe Will Brinson gave us his takeaways on all of the action that transpired.
- Kyler Murray ready for an MVP season: "Following on the heels of 2018 (Patrick Mahomes) and 2019 (Lamar Jackson), everyone wanted to crown a young, hyper-athletic quarterback to make a massive leap forward in 2020 and take home the hardware. The top choice was Kyler Murray, but the Cardinals didn't even make the playoffs. A shoulder injury derailed the Cardinals' playoff hopes ... Sunday's throttling of the Titans opened those floodgates -- Kyler was magical against Tennessee en route to a five-touchdown game (four passing and one rushing)."
- Jameis Winston is an upgrade over Drew Brees: "Winston's yardage total wasn't gaudy, but I would posit that's a good thing. He was efficient, he was smart and he was largely mistake-free. People scoffed when I suggested Winston could be an upgrade over Drew Brees, but Winston's PFF passing grade from Week 1 would have qualified as Brees' second-highest mark of the entire 2020 season."
- Urban Meyer experiment is a disaster: "Trevor Lawrence threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns but he also had three picks and put up a ton of garbage time stats. Jacksonville essentially gave up 37 points to Tyrod Taylor, Mark Ingram and Brandin Cooks. If that defense is this bad against Houston, it's going to get obliterated by more dangerous offenses. Which means we're going to see Lawrence throw roughly 700 times this year."
3. Bold predictions as Champions League begins again ⚽
Earlier this year, Chelsea won the Champions League as they defeated Manchester City in the final. Now the 2021 installment of the Champions League is slated to get underway Tuesday on Paramount +.
According to Caesars Sportsbook, PSG (+300) and Manchester City (+400) are the favorites heading into the latest installment of the Champions League. It's certainly not surprising to see PSG as the favorite. After adding the likes of Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Gianluigi Donnarumma, PSG lucked into star forward Lionel Messi, who came over from Real Madrid.
Now the French powerhouse boasts a group of forwards that features Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi.
To get everyone ready for the action, CBS Sports soccer scribe James Benge gave a few bold predictions for the upcoming Champions League campaign. Here are two that stuck out to me.
- Cristiano Ronaldo could score double-digit goals: "Perhaps the only team one could argue are truly lockdown defensively is Villarreal though even they have looked rather more vulnerable three games into Unai Emery's second season in charge, losing the expected goals (xG) battle by considerable margins in draws against Espanyol and Atletico Madrid. United will surely have revenge on their mind when they met in a rerun of last season's Europa League final. In short, this could be a group stage where Ronaldo swells his goal tally significantly."
- Chelsea could win all six games: "Chelsea then can rely on Lukaku to make the most of his chances early and then sit back and hold onto a lead knowing they are masters of protecting Edouard Mendy's goal. So long as they don't suffer anymore red cards they should beat everyone in front of them in Group H."
4. The most important remaining series of MLB's regular season ⚾
The 2021 Major League Baseball season is coming down the home stretch. With the postseason right around the corner, there are several series in the coming weeks that will shape the playoff field. Out of the six divisions, it appears that the Milwaukee Brewers (NL Central), Tampa Bay Rays (AL East), and Chicago White Sox (AL Central) have their respective divisions wrapped up.
For the most part, the eyes will be on the Wild Card races in both leagues. In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals are all separated by just a single game for the second Wild Card spot. The San Francisco Giants currently lead the Los Angeles Dodgers by 2.5 games in the NL West, so the team that doesn't win the division will earn the first Wild Card spot in the National League.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, and Seattle Mariners are all separated by just three games for the two Wild Card spots in the American League. The Blue Jays and Red Sox currently hold the two Wild Card spots. Toronto has been one of the hottest teams in the majors as of late with 14 wins in their last 16 games. They also rose three spots in our CBS Sports MLB Power Rankings and could be a true threat if they qualify for the postseason.
CBS Sports baseball scribe Mike Axisa provided some insight into what upcoming regular season series will hold a ton of weight down the stretch and ultimately decide the postseason field.
- Red Sox/Mariners, Sept. 13-15: "Seattle is riding its Fun Differential in the wild card race while the Red Sox are trying to overcome a widespread (and continually growing) COVID-19 outbreak. Boston is hanging on to a wild card spot and has the edge in the standings, though the AL wild card race is very tight. The Mariners can gain a lot of ground at home these three games, or the Red Sox can create some breathing room for themselves. These two clubs split four games at Fenway Park in April."
- Padres/Cardinals, Sept. 17-19: "This will be the last chance for the Cardinals to make a move in the NL wild card race. They wrapped up their season series with the Reds this past weekend, and once they play San Diego this coming weekend, St. Louis will have to rely on other teams to beat the Reds and Padres for them. This is their last chance to handle business themselves and gain ground on a direct wild card competitor."
- Yankees/Blue Jays, Sept. 28-30: "Last week the Blue Jays swept the Yankees in four games and became the first team in almost a century to sweep a four-game series in Yankee Stadium without allowing the Yankees to hold a single lead. These two clubs are basically neck and neck for a wild card spot right now. Will that be the case in two weeks? I hope so. This series would lose some luster otherwise. Toronto is 10-6 against New York this year and has already clinched the season series, so they hold the home-field advantage tiebreaker."
📝 Odds & Ends
- USC fired head coach Clay Helton following a two-touchdown loss to Stanford over the weekend. Helton put together a 46-24 record in his seven-plus seasons with the Trojans
- The winner of the Vienna Marathon was disqualified for wearing the wrong pair of shoes
- The San Francisco 49ers placed running back Raheem Mostert on injured reserve and he could miss approximately eight weeks due to chipped cartilage in his knee. Mostert suffered the injury in the team's Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions
- The Washington Football Team placed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on injured reserve due to hip subluxation and he'll miss 6-8 weeks. Fitzpatrick suffered the hip injury in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Rays at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. | TOR -130 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Cardinals at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | NYM -145 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Padres at Giants, 9:45 p.m. | SF -153 | TV: MLB.TV
Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅
Florida State was upset by Jacksonville State courtesy of a walk-off touchdown in the final seconds on Saturday. It certainly hasn't been a great start to the season for the Seminoles after losing to Notre Dame the week before. However, it wasn't a totally terrible day for one Florida State player.
In a photo that has since gone viral, redshirt junior offensive lineman Brady Scott proposed to his girlfriend on the field following the game. Scott has been mocked on social media for his decision to propose while Jacksonville State celebrated in the background. As someone who proposed earlier this summer, I can honestly say that it's one of the most terrifying and amazing experiences that a person will go through. Cut Scott some slack and be happy for him.