Happy Tuesday, old sport! (Yep, you guessed it... I just watched "The Great Gatsby" on TV and now I'm going around calling everyone "old sport" for the next little while.)
Speaking of old sports, it's opening day for the World Series and Champions League, and that means we've got plenty to talk about this morning. We also had two NFL games last night so, yeah, you could say we've got ourselves a loaded itinerary this morning.
Not only am I prepared to catch you up on all you need to know in sports, I'm also prepared to give you some timely free life advice to start your day: Always remember to double-check whether your webcam is on/off while "participating" in work meetings over Zoom. Thank me later!
📰 What you need to know
I've said it before and I'll say it again... I could really get used to this NFL double feature on Mondays thing. It's nice to not have to wait so long for a sweet reward after surviving a Monday.
We were treated to two games again last night as the Chiefs and Bills got the party started with the early game in rainy Buffalo. Both teams were looking to wash the taste of a poor performance out of their mouth -- the Chiefs lost to the Raiders in Week 5 while the Bills dropped a dud against the Titans -- but only one could redeem their coupon for a bounce-back performance. That redemption was cashed in by the Chiefs, who ran over Buffalo in a 26-17 win.
A quick little breakdown, courtesy of Cody Benjamin and Tyler Sullivan:
- Why the Chiefs won: Kansas City's playmakers were awesome. Patrick Mahomes (21/26, 225 yards 2 TDs) was nearly perfect. Travis Kelce (2 TDs) came up big. Clyde Edwards-Hellaire (161 yards rushing) was electric. The game was more lopsided than the scoreboard showed and KC's effectiveness on offense was a big reason why
- Why the Bills lost: Buffalo's run game couldn't really get anything going and that put more pressure on Josh Allen to do it all through the air. Allen put forth a decent effort (14/27, 122 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) but he had some issues with consistency again. On the other side of the ball, the Bills defense just got chewed up -- especially on the ground
Mahomes earned himself a pretty nice slice of NFL history last night. He became the fastest player in modern NFL history to throw 90 career touchdown passes; Dan Marino did it in 40 games but Mahomes reached that mark on Monday in his 37th game.
The second game of the night saw the Cowboys get throttled by the Cardinals, 38-10. Out of respect for Dallas fans, I'll try to keep this one brief.
- Ezekiel Elliot fumbled twice
- Andy Dalton was unimpressive and threw two interceptions -- one being a back-breaking interception to start the second half. Arizona scored three touchdowns off those turnovers
- Kyler Murray struggled through the air a bit but had three total TDs
- Kenyan Drake ran for 164 yards and two TDs
This Cowboys season remains very much a mess but, on the bright side, they still sit in first place in an absolutely laughable NFC East. Yep, 2-4 and cruising toward the postseason! Feel, the excitement, Dallas!
2. Our expert World Series picks ⚾
OK, now it's time for World Series talk. We're going to get our first look at Dodgers-Rays tonight with Game 1 going down in Arlington, TX and, if the championship series were any indication, this should be a fun ride. It's hard to beat the methodical, mounting intensity of World Series baseball. It's also hard to beat Tyler Glasnow vs. Clayton Kershaw as the opening pitching matchup.
Before we get this thing underway, let's check in with our baseball crew and see where they're leaning with their picks. Of our six baseball experts, five picked the Dodgers to win it all -- with Mike Axisa being the only one to side with the Rays. Here's a sample from both sides of the aisle:
- R.J. Anderson: "The Dodgers were the best team in baseball during the regular season, to the extent that their run differential was more than twice as large as the Rays'. That doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot at this stage, but I think they're the deeper club and the club with more top-end talent."
- Mike Axisa: "I'll pick the Dodgers to stop losing the World Series when they stop losing the World Series. In all seriousness, the middle of their pitching staff worries me, and the Rays will be able to give them a taste of their own medicine with platoons and pinch-hitters and whatnot."
Katherine Acquavella says she feels like this has to be the Dodgers' year after they managed to climb out of a 3-1 hole against the Braves, and she's right. It's not quite on the level of the 2004 Red Sox but it does sort of feel like the Dodgers may have been able to shed some of that bad postseason juju this October. Everyone except Matt Snyder think this series will go six or seven games. He says Dodgers in five because the Rays' offense just isn't dangerous enough. (Randy Arozarena says CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.)
I would imagine this isn't exactly the World Series matchup MLB was hoping for (the Yankees or Astros probably would have been the preferred Dodgers opponent from a marketing standpoint) but there's still intrigue here. It's somewhat of a David vs. Goliath matchup -- at least from a payroll perspective-- but while the Dodgers basically print money, they didn't exactly buy a championship team in free agency. Los Angeles primarily built its World Series roster through the farm system, while the Rays put theirs together through savvy trades.
Regardless of how we got here, there's a great opportunity for the league to sell its product over the next 4-7 games. We don't have many steady weekday sports viewing options at this point so it's kind of World Series or bust right now. Baseball, I know we make fun of you and criticize you a lot, but now's your time to shine. Don't let us down.
3. Champions League storylines to follow ⚽
It's not just the World Series kicking off today... Champions League Matchday 1 is upon us as well. There are eight matches kicking off the group stage today, with another eight coming tomorrow.
If you're feeling like it was just yesterday that Champions League wrapped up with Bayern Munich dominating all the way to the title, join the club. The COVID-adjusted schedule means it's a quick reset for the European clubs and we begin anew starting today.
There are plenty of storylines to keep track of as we head into the first day of the tournament, so here are a few provided by our Roger Gonzalez:
- Can Real Madrid and Barcelona bounce back?: Both Real Madrid and Barca suffered embarrassing shutout losses in La Liga over the weekend and that casts a bit of a shadow over them as they begin play in Champions League. Gonzalez says they both should win today but, uh, they were supposed to win on Saturday, too
- COVID-19 strikes Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo won't be on the pitch for Juventus today after he recently tested positive for coronavirus. I probably don't need to tell you that's a pretty significant loss that Juventus will have to overcome in the group stage. The team will also be without American midfielder Weston McKennie, who also tested positive for COVID-19, and so we'll have to keep an eye on how they look without a couple big pieces
- Matchup of the day: PSG vs. Manchester United in Paris
Oh! Just in time for Champions League action, CBS Sports has a new daily soccer podcast called "¡Qué Golazo!" that you should consider checking out if you're hungry for more soccer coverage. Luis Miguel Echegaray and guests will cover the game from a global perspective with a heavy emphasis on the Champions League with previews and recaps this week.
4. Kyle Larson reinstated by NASCAR 🏁
Remember Kyle Larson, the NASCAR driver who was suspended indefinitely and released from his racing team after using a racial slur during an iRacing event in April? He's back in the sport...or at least he will be in 2021.
- Larson was caught on a hot mic casually using the N-word during an iRacing simulation with other drivers
- After serving his suspension and completing sensitivity training, Larson will be cleared to return to all NASCAR racing activities on January 1, 2021
- NASCAR statement: "NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport. Kyle Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR, and has taken several voluntary measures, to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to help bridge the divide in our country.
- Larson: "The work I've done over the last six months has had a major impact on me. I will make the most of this opportunity and look forward to the future"
It'll be interesting to see how Larson's return is received, how he carries himself and where he might land on his feet. NASCAR has taken some significant strides toward promoting a more inclusive and welcoming culture around the sport this year, so Larson's second chance shouldn't be taken lightly.
📝 Odds & Ends
- The voice of the NHL, Mike "Doc" Emrick, is retiring from broadcasting
- Kobe Bryant's jersey and LeBron James' shoes are being displayed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is set to officiate in a professional wrestling promotion
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Rays vs. Dodgers, 8:09 p.m. | LAD -172 | TV: FOX
📝 Top scores from last night
Kansas City improved to 5-1 while the Bills suffered their second straight loss to drop to 4-2.
💵 Winning Wagers: KC -5.5, Under (55)
Kyler Murray threw for 188 yards and two TDs while rushing for 74 yards and adding another TD on the ground.
💵 Winning Wagers: ARI -101, Under (56)