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

NUMBER 1The Dodgers’ franchise-record 106 wins – a result of a 6-0 run during the final week of the regular season and a 12-4 clip since clinching the NL West on Sept. 10 – goes down as the best in the National League, and second-best in the MLB to Houston’s 107 wins. So if the Dodgers and Astros reprise their 2017 World Series, this time a Game 7 would be in Houston. Because last time the Dodgers had a Game 7 against the Astros …
Let’s not catapult ourselves too far too soon.
The Dodgers start the NL Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday and Friday, against the winner of the Milwaukee-Washington wild-card game (Tuesday, 5 p.m., TBS), with Game 3 on the road Sunday.
Major League Baseball announced that if Washington wins Tuesday’s wildcard, the Dodgers-Nationals NLDS starts at 5:37 p.m. If Milwaukee wins, the Dodgers-Brewers NLDS starts at 6:37 p.m. The Friday Game 2 would be at 6:37 p.m. (Dodgers-Nationals) or 6:47 p.m. (Dodgers-Brewers).
According to the latest numbers from FiveThirtyEight.com, the Astros are 27 percent favorite to win it all. Their starting pitching will go a long way toward proving that. But the Dodgers are at 24 percent.
FanGraphs.com has the Astros at 32 percent, with the Yankees second at 16 percent and then the Dodgers at 15 percent.
VegasInsider.com has the Dodgers as 1/2 to win the NLCS, the Astros 5/6 to take the ALCS, and then Houston the 9/4 favorite (over the 5/2 Dodgers) to win the title again.
So, we now play it out.
The rest of the post-season MLB schedule to date:
= AL wildcard: Tampa Bay at Oakland, 5 p.m., ESPN
= NLDS: St. Louis at Atlanta, Games 1 and 2 in Atlanta, Thursday and Friday (either 2:02 p.m. or 3:02 p.m. starts), TBS; Game 3 in St. Louis, Sunday, TBS.
= ALDS: AL wildcard winner at Houston, Games 1 and 2 in Houston, Friday (11:05 a.m., FS1) and Saturday (6:07 p.m. FS1); Minnesota at N.Y. Yankees, Games 1 and 2 in New York, Friday (4:07 p.m., MLB Network) and Saturday (6:07 p.m. FS1)

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NUMBER 2The Rams’ wanna get away Week 5 trip to Seattle for one of those cranky Thursday night nationally-televised affairs does no one any much good. At least there aren’t any time zones sacrificed along the way in the interdivision matchup (5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime stream). If you happened upon the most recent episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” you may have also caught the story about Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin and the amazing way the twins have become Seahawks teammates thanks to Pete Carroll. Check out as well the new book about them called “Inseparable,” which is in the works of becoming a movie.

Also this week:
= Denver at Chargers, Dignity Sports Health Park in Carson, Sunday at 1:05 p.m., Channel 2

Finishing NFL Week 4:
Monday:
= Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
The rest of the Week 5 schedule:
Sunday:
In the Fox early window (10 a.m.):
= Chicago vs. Oakland at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London (also:  Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Minnesota at N.Y. Giants, Arizona at Cincinnati, Atlanta at Houston)
In the CBS early window (10 a.m., all blacked out in L.A.):
= Buffalo at Tennessee, N.Y. Jets at Philadelphia, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, Jacksonville at Carolina
In the Fox late window (1:25 p.m.):
= Green Bay at Dallas
In the NBC late window (5:20 p.m.):
= Indianapolis at Kansas City

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NUMBER 3We’re not sure why the Pac-12 even plans to finish out the season. There are no longer any undefeated teams left after Week 5. Paul Finebaum confirms: There is no reason to watch the conference games any longer.
“I hate to be the grim reaper on a gorgeous autumn morning but it’s over for the Pac-12,” Finebaum said. “They’re not getting in. They didn’t have much of a chance before last night. But I think all of their big teams are gone now. Even though there are a couple of really competitive teams in the Pac-12, I just don’t think there is a path. The SEC is so top heavy. It looks like Ohio State is in a great spot. Clemson clinched a spot on Memorial Day, and you still have the Big 12 to deal with. So nice knowing you Pac-12. We’ll see you next year, maybe.”
Time to start with taking weeks off.
Lodged in between two games of conference and national importance – a trip to Washington that ended with a 14-point loss, and an annual trek to South Bend, Ind., to face Notre Dame on Oct. 12 – USC has scheduled a bye for Week 6.
Meanwhile:
= UCLA vs. Oregon State, Rose Bowl, Saturday at 6 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Also this week in the Pac 12:
= Washington at Stanford, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
= Cal at Oregon, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 11
= Arizona at Colorado, Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Bye: Arizona State
Also of interest this week:
Saturday:
= Iowa at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 11
= Oklahoma at Kansas, 9 a.m., Channel 7
= Purdue at Penn State, 9 a.m., ESPN
= Auburn at Florida, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
= Bowling Green at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., Channel 4
= Texas at West Virginia, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
= Air Force at Navy, 12:30 p.m., CBSSN
= Georgia at Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPN
= Michigan State at Ohio State, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7

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NUMBER 4The NHL’s 103rd season of operation (and, to be clear, 102nd season of actual play) can start here with a couple of lists.
One ESPN writer has done what he calls the “watchability tiers” of teams, from 31 to 1, which take into account “any number of relevant factors that go into creating a fun product.”
Your Los Angeles Kings are ranked No. 31.
The thought is that the core of the roster that won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014 isn’t equipped to be upright and productive in 2019, with all their major star power on the wrong side of age 30 and $54 million of their $81.5 million salary cap dedicated to eight players, one buyout and another “recapture penalty.”
More realistic, the team hasn’t change a whole lot from the one that was 30th in goals last year – except add a new head coach.
We’re going to respectfully disagree with this assessment.
Next, an ESPN poll of experts that assess the Top 50 players in today’s game start off with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, the 22-year-old center who has a league-best 324 points over the last three seasons.
Not so funny you should ask, but the so-called unwatchable Kings open this season with division partner Edmonton on the road (Saturday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West)
The Ducks, No. 28 on the watchable list, starts its season Thursday against Arizona (Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket).
Hey, do the Kings or Ducks have anyone on that Top 50 player list?
Ducks goalie John Gibson, tied for first among active goalies with a .921 save percentage, checks in at No. 34. The Kings’ 29-year-old star defenseman Drew Doughty is a disappointing No. 42 on this list, with his projection of 11 goals and 40 assists.
Also:
= Opening night Wednesday has Washington at St. Louis for the Stanley Cup banner presentation at 5 p.m., followed by San Jose at Vegas at 7:30 p.m., both on NBCSN

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NUMBER 5The NBA’s exhibition season starts as camps have opened and the Lakers will help the Golden State Warriors open their new Chase Center in San Francisco with a contest Saturday (5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, TNT) before heading to China for exhibitions against Brooklyn.
The Clippers start with exhibition games in Honolulu against Houston (Thursday, 10 p.m., Fox Sports West) and then the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association that includes Jimmer Fredette and Luis Scola (Sunday, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket)

 

More

The MLS shuts down the regular season on Sunday with “Decision Day,” which puts the LAFC at Banc of California Stadium against Colorado (1 p.m., YouTube TV) and the Galaxy going to Houston (1 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet), and both of them having clinched a playoff spot.
What follows is about a week’s break for FIFA international play before we get to the first round of games Oct. 19-20, with the conference semifinals Oct. 23-24, conference finals Oct. 29-30 and the championship on Nov. 10.

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