👋 Happy Tuesday! Welcome back.
- ⛳️ Relatable: Golfer Eddie Pepperell was disqualified from the Turkish Airlines Open on Saturday because he ran out of balls.
- 🏈 Tonight: Following an action-packed weekend, the College Football Playoff committee will unveil its Week 12 rankings at 7pm ET on ESPN.
Today's word count: 1,410 words (5 minutes)
1 big thing: 🏈 10 weeks down, 7 more to go
Week 10 recap:
- Monday Night Classic: A week after the Ravens handed the Patriots their first loss, the Seahawks ended the 49ers' perfect season with a 27-24 OT win last night. Good news: Seattle (8-2) and San Francisco (8-1) meet again in Week 17, where the NFC West title could be on the line.
- What a weekend: Aside from the Ravens' 49-13 drubbing of the Bengals and the Falcons' 26-9 upset of the Saints, every game this weekend was decided by eight points or fewer with an average point differential of 4.7.
- Congrats, Cincy: The 1-7 Jets beat the Giants, the 1-7 Dolphins beat the Colts and the 1-7 Falcons beat the Saints. That leaves the 0-9 Bengals with a firm grasp on the No. 1 pick (most mock drafts have them taking LSU QB Joe Burrow).
- Love this bromance: After another incredible start (did you see this run?!), Lamar Jackson and his coach shared a cool moment on the sideline. "You changed the game, man," said Harbaugh. "You know how many little kids in this country are going to be wearing No. 8 playing quarterback for the next 20 years?" Please enjoy.
MVP race: After what Jackson did on Sunday, Russell Wilson needed to put on a show last night to remain the MVP favorite. He did — but it still feels like Jackson closed the gap a bit this weekend.
- My top candidates: 1. Wilson, 2. Jackson, 3. Deshaun Watson, 4. Christian McCaffrey, 5. Aaron Rodgers, 6. Dalvin Cook, 7. Patrick Mahomes, 8. Dak Prescott.
Playoff picture: If the season ended today, here's what the postseason field would look like:
- AFC byes: No. 1 Patriots (8-1), No. 2 Ravens (7-2)
- AFC wild cards: No. 3 Texans (6-3), No. 4 Chiefs (6-4), No. 5 Bills (6-3), No. 6 Steelers (5-4)
- NFC byes: No. 1 49ers (8-1), No. 2 Packers (8-2)
- NFC wild cards: No. 3 Saints (7-2), No. 4 Cowboys (5-4), No. 5 Seahawks (8-2), No. 6 Vikings (7-3)
P.S. ... The snowstorm at Lambeau was awesome.
2. ⚽️ Sounders cement place as MLS giants
On Sunday, the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC met in the MLS Cup for the third time in four years. After splitting the first two meetings, Seattle emerged victorious, winning 3-1 in front of a record-setting home crowd of 69,274.
- Why it matters: The victory makes Seattle the sixth team in MLS history with multiple league titles, joining LA Galaxy (5), D.C. United (4), Houston Dynamo (2), San Jose Earthquakes (2) and Sporting KC (2).
The big picture: In the three years since Seattle won its first title, MLS has added four new teams — and there are lots more coming.
- As the league continues to rapidly expand, elite clubs like the Sounders will play a pivotal role in maintaining a sense of stability, while also providing a measuring stick for expansion clubs to compare themselves against and a rubric for them to follow.
- Premier League: Liverpool overpowered Manchester City, 3-1, to open an eight-point lead atop the standings. That's now 19 straight trips to Anfield without a win for City (0-13-6).
- Women's college: The D-I tournament bracket has been revealed, with Virginia, UNC, Stanford and FSU earning No. 1 seeds. (Full 64-team bracket)
3. 🏈 Report: Bezos eyeing NFL team
Jeff Bezos is interested in purchasing an NFL team and "has strong support within the league to eventually join their ranks," CBS Sports reports.
Potential targets: No teams are currently on the market, but that could change soon.
- The Seahawks will eventually be sold following Paul Allen's death (currently owned by Allen's trust), and Bezos' strong presence in Seattle could make him a good fit.
- The Broncos are dealing with an intrafamily squabble in the wake of Pat Bowlen's death, which could result in the team being sold.
By the numbers: Bezos has a net worth of roughly $104 billion, which would make him the richest NFL owner by a cool ~$92 billion.
- David Tepper, CAR ($12B)
- Stan Kroenke, LAR ($9.7B)
- Jerry Jones, DAL ($8.5B)
- Shahid Khan, JAX ($8.5B)
- Stephen Ross, MIA ($7.6B)
Go deeper: The NFL's 10 richest owners (CNBC)
4. 📸 ICYMI: This weekend in college sports
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — LSU "stared the Alabama death machine in the face and survived," beating the Tide for the first time since 2011 in a 46-41 thriller.
- Go deeper: Alabama's loss to LSU could mark the end of a college football dynasty (ESPN)
MINNEAPOLIS — Tens of thousands stormed the field after No. 17 Minnesota beat No. 4 Penn State, 31-26, the Gophers' first win over a top-5 team at home since 1977.
- What they're saying: "It's a moment I'll never forget," said QB Tanner Morgan (18/20, 339 yds, 3 TD). "Just really exciting for our fans to be able to experience that with us [and] for our program to take the next right step."
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State star Cassius Winston shared a hug with coach Tom Izzo after exiting the court on Sunday, a day after his younger brother Zachary died when he was struck by a train.
- What they're saying: "Whoever it is — son, daughter, mother, father, wife or husband — it'll do you good to tell them you love them," said Izzo. "Because one morning, you'll wake up and everything's one way, and by 9 o'clock that night, it's another way. And then you don't get a chance to say it." (Watch)
- Go deeper: A death, a decision, and one day beyond basketball (The Athletic)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In the first ranked-on-ranked action of the season, No. 8 South Carolina overpowered No. 4 Maryland, 63-54, on Sunday. In the new AP poll, the Gamecocks are up to No. 6, while the Terrapins are down to No. 8.
- Elsewhere: Sabrina Ionescu and the top-ranked Ducks took down Team USA, 93-86, becoming just the second college team to beat the national team (1999 Tennessee). Super impressive.
5. 🏆 If championships were won on paper
FiveThirtyEight compared the number of championships teams have won with the number of times they finished as the best team "on paper" (i.e. had the No. 1 Elo rating, a metric used to rank teams).
Biggest gainers (1968-present):
- 🏈 Notre Dame (+4): 4 actual championships, 0 "paper championships"
- 🏀 Lakers (+4): 11 actual championships, 7 "paper championships"
- 🏈 Giants (+3): 4 actual championships, 1 "paper championship"
- ⚾️ Cardinals (+3): 4 actual championships, 1 "paper championship"
Biggest losers (1968-present):
- ⚾️ Orioles (-5): 3 actual championships, 8 "paper championships"
- ⚾️ Indians (-4): 0 actual championships, 4 "paper championships"
- 🏈 Oklahoma (-3): 4 actual championships, 7 "paper championships"
- 🏀 Spurs (-3): 5 actual championships, 8 "paper championships"
- 🏀 UConn women (-3): 9 actual championships, 12 "paper championships"
6. 📊 By the numbers
🏈 25 years
No. 24 Indiana entered this week's AP poll for the first time since 1994, meaning their in-state rival, Purdue, now holds the longest unranked streak among all Power 5 schools (last ranked in 2007).
🏀 6 weeks
Gordon Hayward will be out six weeks following surgery on his left hand. Poor guy. After missing the 2017-18 season (broken ankle) and struggling last year, Hayward was on fire prior to the injury (20.3 pts, 7.9 reb, 4.6 ast on 56.4% FG).
🎾 22 years old
Alexander Zverev beat top-ranked Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-4, at the ATP Finals yesterday, meaning he has beaten each of the Big Three (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic) in his last three matches at London's O2 Arena.
7. Nov. 12, 1995: 🏈 Marino passes Tarkenton
26 years ago today, Dan Marino surpassed Fran Tarkenton to become the NFL's all-time leading passer.
The big picture: Marino finished his career with 61,361 passing yards — a record that has since been broken by four different QBs, two of whom are still playing.
- Drew Brees (75,505 yds)
- Tom Brady (73,050)
- Peyton Manning (71,940)
- Brett Favre (71,838)
- Dan Marino (61,361)
As for Tarkenton, he's now ranked 12th behind Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, John Elway, Warren Moon and Matt Ryan.
Go deeper: Dan Marino career highlights (YouTube)
8. The Ocho: 🎮 China tops Europe at LoL Worlds
Many believed this would be the year that a Western team finally won the League of Legends World Championship, but it wasn't meant to be, as China-based FPX beat European-based G2 in Paris to claim the prize of at least $2.5 million.
The backdrop: "A European team hasn't won finals since 2011, which wasn't a truly global event," writes WashPost's Matt Vella. "In the years following, Korean teams dominated — until 2018 when a Chinese team took the top spot."
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the prize money as $1 million. It's been updated to the correct amount of $2.5 million.
9. 🏀 NBA trivia
The Spurs retired franchise legend Tony Parker's No. 9 jersey in a ceremony last night in San Antonio.
- Question: Parker, who is French, leads all Europeans in career NBA playoff points (4,045). In second is Germany's Dirk Nowitzki (3,663). Who's in third?
- Hint: Still active.
Answer at the bottom.
10. ⚾️ MLB Awards Week
Mets 1B Pete Alonso and Astros DH Yordan Álvarez had historic seasons in 2019, and their efforts were recognized last night with runaway wins in the NL and AL Rookie of the Year Award voting.
- Alonso won the midsummer Home Run Derby, then became the first rookie to win the full-season version, leading all of baseball with 53 bombs.
- Álvarez compiled the highest OPS ever for a rookie with at least 300 trips to the plate, while recording 27 HR and 78 RBI in just 87 games.
Coming up: The NL and AL Manager of the Year Awards will be handed out tonight at 6pm ET.
- NL finalists: Craig Counsell (MIL), Mike Shildt (STL), Brian Snitker (ATL)
- AL finalists: Rocco Baldelli (MIN), Aaron Boone (NYY), Kevin Cash (TB)