09.23.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1Summer officially ended Sunday. Autumn officially arrived Monday. Falling forward, we admit we don’t always do well with change.
But the more things seem to change in the NFL finishing off Week 3, the more they stay the same.
The Rams’ Sunday night win at Cleveland keeps them uncomfortably undefeated in the NFC West, likely in the Top 5 of any media-induced power rankings at this point, and about a 10-point favorite against visiting Tampa Bay (Sunday at the Coliseum, 1:05 p.m., Channel 11).
Speaking of odds.
The 1-2 Chargers have to go 3,000 miles from home (Los Angeles, right?) and still have been slotted as a 17-point favorite at winless Miami (Sunday at 10 a.m., Channel 2). To put that in perspective, this is just the fifth time since 1980 a road team has been favored by 17 or more points, and two of those instances have happened with this year’s Dolphins (including in Week 2 when New England closed as an 18-point road favorite and posted a 43-0 win).
The Dolphins have been outscored 133-16 in three losses (after going 3-1 in the exhibition season) and are guaranteed of not suffering another loss in Week 5 – they have a bye.
The Chargers have only scored three points in the second half of the last two losses combined, even though quarterback Philip Rivers ranks third in the NFL in passing yards to this point (944) and his 98.3 QB rating is 11th in the league a somewhat large leap over the Rams’ Jared Goff (25th at 84.5). Miami’s two quarterbacks, Josh Rosen (45.3) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (44.0) are second-to-last and last in the league’s QB ratings list.
Also this week, finishing NFL Week 3:
Monday:
= Chicago at Washington, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
The rest of the Week 4 schedule:
Thursday:
= Philadelphia at Green Bay, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11/NFL Network
Sunday:
= Dallas at New Orleans, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
CBS early window (10 a.m., blacked out in L.A.)
= Tennessee at Atlanta, New England at Buffalo, Oakland at Indianapolis, Cleveland at Baltimore.
Fox early window (10 a.m.)
= Kansas City at Detroit, Washington at N.Y. Giants
CBS late window (1:25 p.m.)
= Minnesota at Chicago, Jacksonville at Denver
Fox late window (1:05 p.m., blacked out in L.A.)
= Seattle at Arizona

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NUMBER 2The Athletic’s John Walters writes in the aftermath of UCLA’s 67-63 win at Washington State late Saturday night: “It may have been the zaniest Pac-12 After Dark game for which we’ve ever sacrificed slumber, and that’s a ridiculously high bar to clear. What constitutes a Pac-12 After Dark game? First and second, as the title implies, the game must take place exclusively between Pac-12 schools and it must be played almost entirely after sundown. Third, it must have a loose adherence to football fundamentals such as tackling and ball security. Fourth, there must be an element of tragedy brought about by what Aristotle referred to as “peripeteia,” a dramatic reversal of fortune. Often more than one. … Finally, it helps if the losing school/coach was at least partly the author of its own demise. Extra points if they were previously undefeated.”
That Bruins victory checked off a lot of boxes, and they stay in the “dark” period of the schedule with a trip to Arizona.
USC’s win over previously 10th-ranked Utah also checked the Trojans into the newest AP Top 25 rankings. But we are a little confused. If USC defeated Utah, which defeated BYU, which defeated USC, which plays a Washington team this week that just demolished BYU, what do we really know at this point going into Week 5?
Of local interest:
USC at Washington, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11
UCLA at Arizona, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Also this week in the Pac 12:
Stanford at Oregon State, Saturday at 4 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Arizona State at Cal, Friday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Washington State at Utah, Saturday at 7 p.m., FS1
Bye week: Oregon, Colorado
Also this week:
Friday:
Penn State at Maryland, 5 p.m., FS1
Saturday:
Texas Tech at Oklahoma, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Northwestern at Wisconsin, 9 a.m., Channel 7
Clemson at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Mississippi at Alabama, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Virginia at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., Channel 4
Ohio State at Nebraska, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7

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MLB

NUMBER 3The Dodgers have procured 100 wins. The Angels don’t have it in them any longer to chase 100 losses.
This last week of the regular season for the Dodgers is more about who comes out with the NL wild card – the Cubs’ six-game losing streak gives plenty of breathing room for Washington and Milwaukee to toggle for home field in a one-and-done matchup, with the winner coming to L.A. to start the best-of-five NLDS. The Dodgers finish the regular season in San Francisco with retiring manager Bruce Bochy and the likelihood of Madison Bumgarner making the start against the recuperating Rich Hill.
Among the milestones left this week for the team:
= Cody Bellinger is three homers away from tying the team’s single-season home run record (49 by Shawn Green in 2001)
= Justin Turner is three homers away from joining Bellinger, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson in the 30 home-run group.
= Rookie catcher Will Smith is just 4 for 41 (.098) in September, after hitting .270 in August and .462 in July. He’s a couple hits away from getting above .100.
How the week plays out for the Dodgers (100-56, still at No. 2 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings behind Houston)
= At San Diego: Tuesday at 7:10 p.m., Wednesday at 7:10 p.m., Thursday at 12:40 p.m.
= At San Francisco: Friday at 7:15 p.m.; Saturday at 1:05 p.m.; Sunday at noon. All on SportsNet LA
How the final week plays out for the Angels (70-86):
= Vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium: Tuesday at 7:07 p.m.; Wednesday at 7:07 p.m.
= Vs. Houston, Angel Stadium: Thursday at 7:07 p.m.; Friday at 7:07 p.m.; Saturday at 6:07 p.m.; Sunday at noon. All on Fox Sports West.
Key games of note:
= Cleveland at Chicago White Sox, Tuesday at 5 p.m., ESPN
= N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay, Wednesday at 4 p.m., ESPN
= Chicago Cubs at St. Louis, Saturday at 4:15 p.m., Channel 11

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NUMBER 4Three MLS games remain for LAFC (19-4-8, first in the West with 65 points, 15 better than runner-up Seattle) and the Galaxy (15-13-3, fourth in the West with 48 points), but two will be taken care of this week:
= LAFC vs. Houston, Banc of California Stadium, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV
= LAFC at Minnesota, Sunday at 4:30 p.m., YouTube TV
= Galaxy at Real Salt Lake, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Galaxy vs. Vancouver, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Sunday at 4:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

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NUMBER 5NHL exhibition season continues with opening night just a week away leaving the Kings and Ducks to share a home-and-home visit along the way. Monday, it’s Staples Center (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West) and Wednesday it’s Honda Center (7 p.m., Prime Ticket). Also:
= Kings at Vegas, Friday at 7 p.m.
= Ducks vs. San Jose, Honda Center in Anaheim, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Ducks at Arizona, Saturday at 7 p.m.

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