how to talk about sports this week like a pro

11-01-2019 16:01

TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is our weekly recap of how to talk about sports this week like a pro. If you’re just starting to learn about sports, or need a quick summary of what’s up in your favorite league, or just want to know why your spouse keeps obsessively checking the sports scores during important social occasions, here’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan the week of January 6, 2019. 

how to talk with a sports fan this week

we begin this week with a meeting of the G.O.A.T.s

In a historic mixed doubles match this week at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, tennis greats Roger Federer and Serena Williams met on the court for the first time ever. Team Federer won the match, but the real win was for tennis fans everywhere. The infectious joy and enthusiasm that the two players showed for each other after the match was a feel-good moment on the world stage. What a fantastic way to start 2019.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer after their doubles match at the Hopman Cup

what you should know to talk about sports this week 

For Those Who Do Not Avidly Follow Professional Sports and Need to Be Able to Talk to a Sports Fan, here are the happenings that you should know about for the week of January 6, 2019:

1. nfl news – it’s wildcard weekend

The post-season in the NFL is underway. First there’s wildcard weekend. Then the divisional championships; the conference championship; and finally, the Super Bowl. The best  (and most fun) way to follow the NFL playoffs is to pick one team and track them all the way through. If/when “your” team loses, pick another. That way, you can feel free to ignore everything else. If you like.

nfl must know: 

The playoffs begin with Wildcard Weekend. Two of the four games were played yesterday. The Indianapolis Colts rolled over the Houston Texans, 21-7 (our Sports Desk called that one, even though Vegas had the spread very tight). The Seattle Seahawks lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 22-24.

Today, its the LA Chargers at the Baltimore Ravens; and the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles at the Chicago Bears.

nfl nice to know:

The top two teams in each conference get a “bye” weekend off during the wildcard match-ups. In the AFC, that’s the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. In the NFC, it’s the New Orleans Saints and LA Rams. It’s a big advantage heading into the divisional championships to have a week to rest up.

Here are some questions you can pose regarding what’s left of wildcard weekend: will the Eagles catch lightning in a bottle and ride back-up quarterback Nick Foles to the Super Bowl again? The Chargers are strongcan Rivers finally win some playoff games? Will the Ravens and their new QB and system prevail in the playoffs?

And here are some queries that should spark a lively conversation with your sports fan about the next couple of weeks in the NFL: will the Chiefs hold up to playoff pressure? Will the Patriots be more “Patriot-like” than they have been during the regular season? Can the Saints maintain their momentum? Can the Rams look more like the Rams in the middle of the season than at the end?

nfl extra credit:

In NFL job news, the Monday after the last regular season weekend is called Black Monday: it’s when head coaches are fired and the “coaching carousel” begins. This year, there are 8 coaching openings after Black Monday.

During the season, the Green Bay Packers fired Mike McCarthy and the Cleveland Browns fired Hue Jackson. On Black Monday, the Jets, Broncos, Dolphins, Tampa Bay, Bengals, and Cardinals all terminated their head coaches.

Here’s how the coaching carousel could spin. The speculation is that McCarthy is going to the Browns or the Jets. Rumors are that head coach John Harbaugh will be leaving the Baltimore Ravens after the playoffs. And Josh McDaniels is back in consideration after leaving the Indianapolis Colts at the alter last year. The rumor on the street is that he wants the Browns job.

Also, right to the end, the Pittsburg Steelers remained a hot mess this season. After the Le’Veon Bell drama during the season, there was the Antonio Brown drama toward the end of the season. Brown didn’t play in the last game of the season – at the time the team said it was due to an ankle injury. It subsequently turned out he had a big blow up with quarterback “Big Ben” Rothlisberger. His future with the team remains unclear.

The Jacksonville Jaguars also had a late-season melt down. Running back Leonard Fournette was disengaged and on the bench during their last game. Head coach Tom Coughlin publicly scolded him. While Coughlin still has his job for the 2019-20 season, the franchise seems to have fallen apart as a team.

2. nba news

Must know: James Harden is on fire right now with the Houston Rockets. On Friday night, he led his team to a victory over the fearsome Golden State Warriors.

Nice to know: The Warriors are still struggling a month after the Durant-Draymond altercation. While they’re still favored to win the Western Conference, the LA Lakers are playing better than expected.

Extra Credit: Speaking of the Lakers . . . LBJ said on a show produced by his production company, “after coming back from 3-1 to Warriors and bring the championship to Cleveland, I became the GOAT.” That sparked controversy for fans who swear that Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. It’s rare for an athlete to proclaim himself the best ever. By way of contrast, in a 2009 interview when Jordan was asked if he was the GOAT, his response was something to the effect that it was unfair to compare him to other legends against whom he didn’t compete.

3. elsewhere in the world of sports

The college football Bowl games have now been played – it was an unremarkable run, with the exception of Texas’ big win over Georgia. Alabama and Clemson play tomorrow in the National Championship.

In Major League Baseball, free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned. Machado is reportedly in talks with the Yankees. Projections of over $400 million and 10-year contracts seem to have been grossly exaggerated.

In a mash-up of cowboy and city, at Madison Square Garden this weekend, there’s a full bill of  bull riding and rodeo events.

And finally, in a moment that has launched a thousand memes, this week Pope Francis demonstrated his athletic prowess by spinning a soccer ball on his finger during a visit from a Cuban circus troupe. Mad skills!

That’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan this week. You’re good to go. See you next week!

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