01.14.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIt seemed inevitable there’d be a Rams-Saints rematch somewhere in the NFC playoffs after witnessing their Week 9 encounter at New Orleans. Back then, the Rams’ eight-game win streak covering September and October to open the season came to a halt on that first weekend in November when Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs without a pick during a 45-35 triumph, extending the Saints’ wins tream at the time to seven straight.
Lessons learned from that one: Don’t doubt Michael Thomas, the 25-year-old, third-season receiver out of Ohio State who set a franchise record with 211 yards on 12 catches, capped by a game-changing 72-yard TD reception. He celebrated by pulling a flip phone out of the field-goal padding and reprised a celebration last seen by the Saints’ Joe Horn in 2003. The Saints finished off the deal with P.J. Williams broke up a fourth-down pass from Jared Goff (28 of 40 passing, 391 yards, three TDs, one INT) to Brandin Cooks. “We love it. You find out about yourself when you have a little bit of adversity,” Rams coach Sean McVay said afterward. “I know that everybody in that locker room is going to respond the right way. Sometimes setbacks can be setups for comebacks — and that’s the way we look at it.” So that sets up this NFC Rams-Saints title game, Sunday at 12:05 p.m. at the Superdome on Channel 11.
In the Saints’ 20-14 win over Philadelphia in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff contest, Thomas pulled in a 2-yard TD reception to give his team its first lead of the game. It came at the end of an 18-play, 92-yard drive that ate up nearly 11 ½ minutes. Thomas finished with 12 receptions for 171 yards, targeted 16 times, more than twice as many as anyone in the game.
The Rams and Saints have one game against each other in NFL playoff history – the Rams of St. Louis with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk lost a 31-28 decision against the Aaron Brooks-led Saints at the Superdome in the 2000 wildcard round despite 21 fourth-quarter points.
The Rams-Saints contest comes before the AFC championship game – New England at Kansas City, Sunday at 3:40 p.m., Channel 2.
Need anything else on that one? Ask a Chargers fan.

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1twoThe latest ESPN bracketology breakdown/guess at the field of 68 for the men’s college basketball tournament allows for only two Pac-12 teams — Arizona and Arizona State – compared to the 10 that could possibly represent from the Big 10 (out of 12) or eight others from the ACC. Heck, the West Coast Conference is on par to have two teams as well at this point. It’s not just ESPN; others in this prognostication game believe the Pac-12 is too talentless to have more than a pair of entries. Before USC and UCLA are allowed to measure up against the Wildcats and Sun Devils next weekend (Jan. 24-26) for their one-and-only meetings of the regular season, the Trojans and Bruins conduct their first of two regular-season faceoffs at the Galen Center (UCLA at USC, Saturday, 1 p.m., Channel 2) for what seems to be some cannibalization as they both try to strengthen their resumes with nearly the same records. Continue reading “01.14.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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01.07.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIf you digested the projection of the NFL playoffs made by CBS Sports’ Will Brinson just after the regular season ended, you might be amused to see a Chargers-Saints Super Bowl matchup set for early February, and Philip Rivers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. That’s all still alive after the previous wildcard weekend. But Brinson only got the two AFC games tagged right. Neither of his NFC wildcards came up right.
As a result, Los Angeles will have a rooting interest on both Saturday and Sunday when the divisional round comes into place.
For the record, the final eight lays out:
Saturday:
* Indianapolis at Kansas City, Channel 4, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4
* Dallas at Rams, Coliseum, Channel 11, 5:15 p.m., Channel 11
Sunday:
* Chargers at New England, Channel 2, 10 a.m., Channel 2
* Philadelphia at New Orleans, Channel 11, 1:40 p.m., Channel 11

What to know about the Chargers: They are 8-1 on the road this season, 8-0 when not in L.A. (the only road loss at the Coliseum to the Rams in Week 3), with wins in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver and Baltimore (not to mention, London). Yet a road team hasn’t won a playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., in six years. A matchup of the 37-year-old Rivers and 41-year-old Tom Brady sets a record for their combined age in a playoff setting. What isn’t old news is that it should be pretty darn cold in New England this time of year. Weather.com says it’ll be snow showers with a high of 30 degrees and a low of 15.
What to know about the Rams: The Cowboys are just 3-5 away from home. But according to insiders at InsideTheStar.com, a less-than-edgy Cowboys’ fan site, the Eagles’ win over the Bears in the wildcard round that sends the Cowboys to L.A. is an outcome that is “arguably better for Dallas.” Meaning, they go to the No. 2 seed instead of the No. 1 seed New Orleans, even though Dallas had a Week 13 upset win over the Saints. “The prospect of a rematch with the Saints in the Superdome was not appealing. (The upset) would have been tough to duplicate. Not only that, but the Rams lost some steam to close the regular season. Their defense, despite featuring Aaron Donald, is one of the lesser groups in the league overall. And if you have a choice between Drew Brees and Jared Goff in an elimination game, then is there really much to debate?” Not really. At least we know Jerry Jones won’t really change his expression one outcome or another.

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1twoAnd the 2019 College Football Playoff champion will be … let’s check the resumes and see … ah, Alabama and Clemson. Again. It’s the fourth season in a row the two programs have met in this post-season format. The Crimson Tide play its fourth straight title game and seventh in the past 10 seasons. It has a 5-1 mark in its past six appearances — the lone loss coming to Clemson, of course. And somehow coach Nick Saban can claim a record-setting seventh national title. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney has his own little dynasty rolling. Enjoy the main event Monday on ESPN at 5 p.m. with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, plus a “MegaCast” breakdown: The “Field Pass” with Adam Amin and Steve Levy on the sidelines (ESPN2), the “Monday Night Film Room” with Joe Tessitore, Jason Whitten, Booger McFarland and Todd McShay instead of the Coaches’ Film Room (ESPNEWS), a “Command Center” with split-screens and shots of the coaches with info graphics (ESPNU), “Sounds of the Game” with no broadcasters (ESPN Classic), a production on the SEC Network called “Thinking Out Loud” with Greg McElroy, Marcus Spears and Alyssa Lang yucking it up, the ESPN Deportes feed, and more on ESPN3 with options of watching the “BlimpCast” through the Goodyear Blimp above Levis Stadium in Santa Clara or the “TechCast” with a mix of vantage points that includes cameras attached to referees, pylons and an even higher SkyCam above the field.
Someone must be watching all this through rose-colored glasses.

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1threeThere is some value in both UCLA and USC owning 2-0 records after the first weekend of Pac-12 conference basketball play. The Bruins posted 92 and 98 points in wins over Stanford and Cal, the first time they’ve exceeded 90 points since the first three games of the season against. ahem, Purdue-Fort Wayne, Long Beach State and St. Francis. The Trojans haven’t started conference 2-0 since 2010.
The downside: As both are still 9-6 overall, it’ll take some doing to pretty themselves up by March. Now let’s ship them off to Oregon against the Ducks (9-5, 0-1) and Beavers (9-4, 1-0) and see if they sink or dog paddle.
For UCLA (9-6, 2-0):
* At Oregon, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2
* At Oregon State, Sunday at 7 p.m., FS1
For USC (9-6, 2-0):
* At Oregon State, Thursday at 8 p.m., ESPNU
* At Oregon, Sunday at 5 p.m., ESPNU
For the other Southern California teams:
* Loyola Marymount (13-3, 1-1 WCC) vs. St. Mary’s, Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Pepperdine (8-8, 1-1 WCC) at Santa Clara, Thursday at 8 p.m.; at San Diego, Saturday at 1 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Long Beach State (6-10) begins Big West play vs. UC Davis, at the Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN3
* Cal State Northridge (6-10) starts Big West play at UC Riverside, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3; at Cal Poly, Saturday at 7 p.m., BigWest.TV.
Games of national interest:
* Tuesday: Duke at Wake Forest, 4 p.m., ESPN; Texas A&M at Kentucky, 4 p.m., SEC Network; St. John’s at Villanova, 4 p.m., FS1; Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 6 p.m., ESPNEWS; North Carolina at North Carolina State, 6 p.m., ESPN; Alabama at LSU, 6 p.m., SEC Network.
* Wednesday: Georgetown at Xavier, 3:30 p.m., FS1; Auburn at Mississippi, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Arizona State at Cal, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net; TCU at Kansas, 6 p.m., ESPN2; San Jose State at Nevada, 8 p.m., CBSSN; Arizona at Stanford, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Net.
* Thursday: Washington State at Colorado, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net; Washington at Utah, 7 p.m.; Pacific at Gonzaga, 8 p.m., ESPN2.
* Friday: Indiana at Maryland, 4 p.m., FS1; Purdue at Wisconsin, 6 p.m., FS1.
* Saturday: Louisville at North Carolina, 9 a.m., ESPN; Providence at Georgetown, 9 a.m., FS1; Mississippi at Mississippi State, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Duke at Florida State, 11 a.m., ESPN; Seton Hall at Marquette, 11 a.m., FS1; Ohio State at Iowa, 11:30 a.m., BTN; Georgia at Auburn, 1 p.m., ESPN2; Kansas at Baylor, 1 p.m., ESPN; Tennessee at Florida, 3 p.m., ESPN; Arizona State at Stanford, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Net; DePaul at St. John’s, 3 p.m., CBSSN; Nevada at Fresno State, 5 p.m., ESPNU; Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 5:30 p.m., SEC Network; Gonzaga at USF, 7 p.m., ESPN2; Washington at Colorado, 7 p.m., ESPNU; Arizona at Cal, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net.
* Sunday: Villanova at Creighton, 9 a.m., Channel 11; Michigan State at Penn State, 1:30 p.m.; Northwestern at Michigan, 4:30 p.m., BTN.

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1fourSensing that the Lakers’ desperation with a 1-5 run since LeBron James went out with a groin injury in Christmas Day, dropping them to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference, the only comfort seems to be that there’s hope he could return by the time his former team, Cleveland, comes into town (at Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet).
Sooner, sure. But let’s be sure about groin pulls.
The Lakers’ Friday night loss to the 10-29 Knicks, at Staples Center, followed by a 22-point drubbing at Minnesota on Sunday that was apparently so embarrassing for the Timberwolves that their fired their coach afterward, really doesn’t look all that swell.
Also this week for the Lakers:
* At Dallas, Monday at 5:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Vs. Detroit, at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
* At Utah, Friday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN

The Clippers have a meet-and-greet with Blake Griffin and Detroit at Staples Center (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket). Consider the Pistons’ season. They started 4-0. Then lost five in a row (two in OT). They won five in a row over Thanksgiving. Then lost six straight. Griffin leads the team with 25.0 points and 5.2 assists a game, to go with 8.7 rebounds.
Also this week for the Clippers;
* Vs. Charlotte at Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Denver, Thursday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket

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1fiveWhen Pittsburgh comes to Southern California for its only NHL stop of the year, is it still kind of a big deal? We shall see when the Ducks face the Pens on Friday (at Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket) and the Kings get them the next day (at Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., FSW). Sidney Crosby (19 goals, 32 assists) is 12th in the league in scoring. Neither the Ducks nor Kings have anyone in the top 90 in points.
Also this week for the Kings:
* At San Jose, Monday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
* Vs. Ottawa at Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
Also this week for the Ducks:
* Vs. Ottawa at Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Winnipeg, Sunday at 3 p.m., Prime Ticket

12.31.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneHow do the 12-4 Chargers cause chaos in any team’s drive to the 2019 Super Bowl? By simply playing. As a No. 5 seed with perhaps the second-best team in the AFC — their play of late might not show that — they can make life difficult for those who finished ahead of them in the divisional races. A story in the Washington Post assessing these playoffs gives the Houston Texans the easiest road to the Super Bowl out of the AFC if teams like the Chargers start playing as they did in mid-season and begin knocking everyone out. Their first playoff game, however, comes with a trip to Baltimore (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2) and a rematch of a Week 16 loss to the AFC North Division winning Ravens, with the smell of a 22-10 loss still hanging in the holiday air. Win there, and it’s likely another rematch is set up against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC semifinals.
The Ravens won their last three in a row and six of their last seven (only a three-point loss to Kansas City in that run) to take the first division title since 2012, sporting the NFL’s top-ranked defense and watching Lamar Jackson wake up the offense. The Chargers sported a 7-1 road record this season, for what that’s worth, tied with New Orleans for the best away mark in the NFL. But when California kids have to go to the brutal chill of an East Coast destination, things can turn frosty pretty fast.
If you’re looking at other hypotheticals, like ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Rams have the third-best chance of winning the Super Bowl (16.8 percent, behind New Orleans’ 30.5  percent and Kansas City’s 24 percent) with the Chargers as the fifth-best (4.2 percent). Over at FiveThirtyEight.com, New Orleans and Kansas City are almost even at 20 percent to win it all, with the Rams fourth behind New England, and the Chargers seventh. Hmmm.

As the Rams get a bye week, here’s the wildcard round to start things:
Saturday:
* Indianapolis at Houston, 1:30 p.m., Channel 7/ESPN
* Seattle at Dallas, 5:15 p.m., Channel 11
Also Sunday:
* Philadelphia at Chicago, 1:40 p.m., Channel 4

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1twoReally, could this be the year California sends four teams to the NBA Finals? Only the New York Times could be that observant with a headline that actually ran on a story posted. Aside from the fact only two teams make the finals, and only one could be from California …
The point of the piece was that the four NBA teams playing in California – the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Kings – have never made the Western Conference playoffs in the same season, but less than halfway through this regular season, it seems possible. It’s also impossible to note that while the Warriors are back atop the Western Conference, the Lakers and Clippers are wedged in the middle and the Kings are barely holding on to the No. 8 spot, it is so tightly packed with 11 teams having at least 18 wins, a dozen teams could change all kinds of places in a matter of weeks.
The Lakers’ radar this week includes:
* Vs. Oklahoma City, at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
* Vs. New York, at Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* At Minnesota, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
On the Clippers’ schedule this week:
* Vs. Philadelphia, at Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Phoenix, Friday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket
* Vs. Orlando, at Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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1threeThere is a eight-day waiting period between the national semifinals and the Jan. 7 title game at Santa Clara, but still plenty of meaningful (or meaningless) bowls to be played out.
That includes the still-in-tact Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual Which Does Not Include Northwestern By Mutual Decision of Big Ten. The Wildcats lost the conference title game, so instead we have the awkwardness of No. 6 Ohio State, in what is supposed to be Urban Meyer’s final game, against No. 9 Washington, which somehow survived a mild Pac-12 schedule (Tuesday, 2 p.m., ESPN).
Also this week:
Monday:
* Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md.: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech, 9 a.m., ESPN
* Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex.: Stanford vs. Pittsburgh, 11 a.m., Channel 2
* Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara: Michigan State vs. Oregon, noon, Channel 11
* Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tenn.: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State, 12:45 p.m., ESPN
* Holiday Bowl in San Diego: Northwestern vs. Utah, 4 p.m., FS1
* Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.: North Carolina State vs. Texas A&M, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday:
* Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.: Mississippi State vs. Iowa, 9 a.m., ESPN2
* Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.: Kentucky vs. Penn State, 10 a.m., Channel 7
* Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.: LSU vs. Central Florida, 10 a.m., ESPN
* Sugar Bowl in New Orleans: Texas vs. Georgia, 5:45 p.m., ESPN

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1fourGoing into the final week of non-conference play, the Pac-12 had just one team in the Top 25 college basketball poll – Arizona State, No. 17 in the AP, and No. 18 in the coaches’ poll and, if you’re going by the new NCAA NET rankings, a dismal No. 31, best in the conference. And this was before the Sun Devils fell to No. 45 after they were upset at home against Princeton last weekend. Accurate or not, that’s still the highest placed school in the Pac-12.
Or is it the Pathetic 12?
After UCLA’s fourth loss in a row, this time at home to Liberty, the 7-6 Bruins dropped from No. 61 to 94 in the NET. USC is at No. 130 out of 353, trailing schools such as Gardner-Webb, Brown, Austin Peay, UC Irvine (No. 106), Radford, San Diego (of the WCC) … Let’s just end this.
As the rumors swirl about Steve Alford’s job status at UCLA — update, he’s been fired —  the problem is now that any Pac-12 team trying to improve it status between now at the selection of the 68-team tournament in early March has really no chance to do so now that non-conference play is over. In the AP and coaches’ polls, not one of the 11 non-ASU teams were even mentioned in the “others receiving votes.” Remember last season, when the Pac-12 had only three reps in the tournament, and UCLA had a play-in game.
Another unbalanced Pac-12 basketball season begins with the Bay Area teams visiting Southern California. God speed to them:
For UCLA:
* Vs. Stanford, at Pauley Pavilion, Thursday at 8 p.m,, ESPN
* Vs. Cal, at Pauley Pavilion, Saturday at 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network
For USC:
* Vs. Cal, at the Galen Center, Thursday at 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* Vs. Stanford, at the Galen Center, Sunday at 5 p.m., ESPNU
To start the West Coast Conference:
* Thursday: Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine, Firestone Fieldhouse, 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
Also this week in the Southland:
* Loyola Marymount vs. Portland, Saturday at Gersten Pavilion, 3 p.m.
* Pepperdine vs. USF, Saturday at Firestone Fieldhouse, 5 p.m.
* Pepperdine vs. Alabama A&M, at Firestone Fieldhouse, Monday at 3 p.m. (non-conference)
Local non-conference:
* Long Beach State vs. Bethesda, Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 7 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge at San Diego State, Tuesday at noon
* Cal State Northridge vs. Yale, at the Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
National games of interest:
* Tuesday: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech, 10 a.m., ESPNU; Marquette at St. John’s, 4 p.m., FS1; Cal State Fullerton at Washington, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* Wednesday: Oklahoma at Kansas, 6 p.m., ESPN2; Harvard at North Carolina, 4 p.m., ESPN2
* Thursday: Penn State at Michigan, 4 p.m., ESPN; Illinois at Indiana, 4 p.m., FS1; Utah at Arizona State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Net; Colorado at Arizona, 6 p.m., FS1
* Saturday: Clemson at Duke, TBA, ESPN; Michigan State at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 11; Kentucky at Alabama, 10 a.m., ESPN; Utah at Arizona, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Net; Florida State at Virginia, noon, ESPN2; Colorado at Arizona State, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Net; Oregon State at Oregon, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Net; Santa Clara at Gonzaga, 6 p.m.; Washington State at Washington, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net.
* Sunday: Indiana at Michigan, TBA, Channel 2

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1fiveIt’s one of 1,271 NHL regular season games, but the one that the Bruins and Blackhawks will play on New Year’s Day in Notre Dame Stadium (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Channel 4) should be among the most spectacular of the league’s outdoor games that go back to 2008. Maybe Garth Brooks will even come back and do a concert or two between periods.
Also this week for the Kings:
* At Colorado, Monday at 5 p.m., FSW
* At Vegas, Tuesday at 6 p.m., FSW
* Vs. Tampa Bay, at Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
* Vs. Edmonton, at Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m., FSW
Also this week for the Ducks:
* Vs. Tampa Bay, at Honda Center, Monday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
* Vs. Vegas, at Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
* Vs. Edmonton, at Honda Center, Sunday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket

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static1.squarespace.com

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio’s Alamodome (Saturday, 10 a.m., Channel 4) is a high school All Star exhibition on one hand, but mostly a place for more players to announce their college intentions on national TV. That will include Mater Dei receiver Bru McCoy (the L.A. Times high school player of the year), Orange Lutheran receiver Kyle Ford and St. John Bosco cornerback Chris Steele. They are among the few who didn’t sign a national letter of intent a couple weeks ago. According to the 247Sports recruiting site, only five of the 32 five-star prospects are not signed up yet – including McCoy (USC, Texas) and Ford (USC, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Michigan). Steele was an early commit to USC but recently backed off after visiting Florida, Oregon and Oklahoma. Can this save USC’s recruiting class? We shall see, apparently.

12.24.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

Ho, ho, ho. And even more ho …

1oneChristmas, twice in one week?
The Lakers’ trip to Oakland on Tuesday to face Golden State – a LeBron James Is In the Western Conference Now notice to the world that hasn’t been paying attention – has become the spotlight of a five-game Christmas Day NBA schedule (5 p.m., Channel 7).
Mike Breen, calling another Christmas Day game for the network, has already seen James in a Laker uniform a couple times this season on an ESPN telecast — his L.A. opener against Houston on Oct. 20 (which turned into an interesting fight toward the end) and his love-fest return to Cleveland on Nov. 21 (which turned out as an equally entertaining reception). What happens in Oakland?
NBA: Chicago Bulls at Dallas Mavericks“Because of the rivalry the previous four years (with James in Cleveland, in the NBA Finals against Golden State), it’s not just the same old guy wearing different colors,” said Breen. “To me right now, with these teams, there are fascinating possibilities. The Warriors aren’t playing  as well as we’d all thought (but leading the Western Conference). The Lakers, even with a recent skid, are playing better than most thought. So because this season isn’t necessarily going to plan, it’s going to make it real fun.”
And if that’s not enough, 36 games into the season, the first Lakers-Clippers matchup rolls in at Staples Center on Friday (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet and Prime Ticket, with the Lakers as the home team). The other three meetings: Jan. 31 (before both head out on a two-week long Grammy Awards road trip break), March 4 and April 5.
Also on Christmas Day:
* Milwaukee at New York, 9 a.m., ESPN
* Oklahoma City at Houston, noon, Channel 7
* Philadelphia at Boston, 2:30 p.m., Channel 7
* Portland at Utah, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Also this week for the Lakers:
* At Sacramento, Thursday at 7 p.m., SSN
* At Staples Center vs. Sacramento, Sunday at 6 p.m., SSN
Also this week for the Clippers:
* At Staples Center vs. Sacramento, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Staples Center vs. San Antonio, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Prime Ticket Continue reading “12.24.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

12.17.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneThe afterglow of the Chargers’ Thursday night win in Kansas City carries on more than a week before they’re back in prime time again. A Week 16 face off against Baltimore at the soon-to-be-name-changed StubHub Center (Saturday, 5:20 p.m., NFL Net) is important to stay on track for a possible AFC West title and playoff bye (Kansas City goes to Seattle for a 5:20 p.m., Sunday game on NBC). A playoff spot is already guaranteed for the Chargers, as well as the Rams who visit Josh Rosen and Arizona (Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Channel 11). The Rams squashed the Cardinals in Week 2, 34-0, when Sam Bradford was the opposing quarterback (17 of 27 passing, 90 yards, 1 interception). And what do the Cardinals have to lose here? Maybe the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the 3-11 Cards have an 82 percent chance of landing the top pick if they play their cards right from here on. The 3-11 Raiders have lower odds based on a 23-21 win over Arizona in Week 11.
The end of Week 15:
* New Orleans at Carolina, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
The rest of Week 16:
* Washington at Tennessee, Saturday at 1:30 p.m., NFL Network
* Pittsburgh at New Orleans, Sunday at 1:25 p.m., Channel 2
 * Houston at Philadelphia, Sunday at 10 a.m., Channel 2

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12.10.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneWho’s in charge of the NFL’s AFC West with three weeks to play? The 10-3 Chargers, who’ve won nine of 10 coming off a Week 3 loss to the Rams, are still looking up at 11-2 Kansas City. Add to that the Chiefs’ season-opening 38-28 win at StubHub Center in Carson over the Chargers. This Week 15 rematch at Arrowhead Stadium in K.C. (5:20 p.m., Channel 11) has a chance to figure out how the AFC will shake out, considering the Chiefs are also No. 1 in the conference (with New England at No. 2, Houston at No. 3 and Pittsburgh at No. 4 based on leading their respective divisions, which makes the Chargers at No. 5 and Baltimore at No. 6). The Chiefs, by virtue of a 27-24 OT win over Baltimore, have secured a playoff bid, and the Chargers can pretty much do the same with a win here. If the Chargers win on Thursday and draw even in the standings, the Chiefs would hold the tie-breaker at that moment with a better division record. The Chiefs would be 4-1, the Chargers 3-2.
If the Chiefs win on Thursday, they’ll clinch the division, having swept the season series with two games remaining, and then it will be a matter of getting the best seed possible.
Meanwhile, the 11-2 and NFC West secure Rams have another Sunday night prime-time contest against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (5:20 p.m., Channel 4) at the Coliseum. These two also faced off at the Coliseum in Week 14 last season, and the Eagles pulled away with a 43-35 win that was marked by Carson Wentz throwing for four TDs before he tore his left ACL and missed the rest of the season.
The end of Week 14:
* Minnesota at Seattle, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
The rest of Week 15:
* Houston at N.Y. Jets, Saturday at 1:30 p.m., NFL Network
* Cleveland at Denver, Saturday at 5:20 p.m., NFL Network
* New England at Pittsburgh, Sunday at 1:25 p.m., Channel 2
* Dallas at Indianapolis, Sunday at 10 a.m., Channel 11
* Oakland at Cincinnati, Sunday at 10 a.m., Channel 2 Continue reading “12.10.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

12.03.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIt’s not too little or too late for this “L.A. Football In Prime Time” run to play out as the NFL season comes to the realization that both the Rams and Chargers remain viable NFC and AFC contenders. In Week 14, the NFC West champs Rams are in a flexed-in game at Chicago going to NBC (Sunday, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4). This comes after the Week 11 Rams-Chiefs 54-51 historic matchup and the Week 13 Chargers’ appearance on “Sunday Night Football” at Pittsburgh. Coming up: A Chargers at Kansas City Week 15 matchup on a Thursday night just before the Rams play host to Philadelphia on a Sunday night, the Chargers at home on a Week 16 Saturday night against Baltimore, and on the final Sunday of Week 17 we have both the Rams (home vs. San Francisco) and Chargers (at Denver) are in two of the three late-afternoon de-facto spotlight games (up against Arizona-Seattle) for national attention. But by that point, both teams will have likely clinched a playoff spot and be trying to make sure it’s injury free before the Jan. 5-6 playoff schedule begins.
Are we getting too far ahead of ourselves?
While the Rams have this Sunday night spot, the Chargers’ home game against Cincinnati (Sunday at 1:05 p.m., Channel 2) could be problematic. If StubHub was announced a sellout in Week 12 when the Chargers faced Arizona, and that didn’t pass the eye test, this can’t be much better from an optics standpoint. There’s always the last resort by the Tampa Bay Bucs: Give away tickets at this point. It could be as “brilliant” as the Atlanta Falcons’ reduced concession prices.
Just throwing that out there like a Philip Rivers’ toss over the middle.
The end of Week 13:
* Washington at Philadelphia, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
The rest of Week 14:
* Jacksonville at Tennessee, Thursday at 5:20 p.m., Channel 11/NFL Network/Amazon Prime
* Philadelphia at Dallas, Sunday at 1:25 p.m, Channel 11
* Atlanta at Green Bay, Sunday at 10 a.m., Channel 11

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