December 4, 2023
The Rams are still in the playoff hunt! Yesterday they defeated the Browns at SOFI, pulling away in the 4th, and winning 36-19. The team is now 3-0 since signing Carson Wentz. Just kidding. No they really are 3-0 since then, but Matt Stafford is heating up at the right time, throwing 8 TD’s in that stretch. It’s also helped tremendously getting Kyren Williams back in the lineup. He’s racked up 231 yards and 3 total TDs since his return. Unfortunately Sean McVay stole my joke, that he is probably on his fantasy team, which is why he is using him so much more than his previous running backs. Defeating Baltimore on the road will be tough next week, but if they just win the remaining games they are supposed to (Washington, New Orleans, and the New York Giants), they should have an excellent chance at nabbing the final wild card spot. Remember when everyone thought the Rams were going to tank at the beginning of the season? I guess everyone forgot that McVay can actually coach, Stafford can actually play QB, and Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp are still around.
Meanwhile, the Chargers were desperate for a win and got one against the lowly Patriots. I’ve seen more scoring at junior high dances than what we saw on display yesterday at Gillette Stadium. This week we won’t beat up on Brandon Staley because it was the rain that held the offenses in check. His defense actually did the job, even if it was against the lowly Patriots that made him look like Vince Lombardi. Nothing is more Chargers than covering a 5.5 spread with 6 points. Next week is an absolute must win against Denver, given that they are chasing them in the standings for a playoff spot. It would certainly help if they can run the ball more effectively. You would expect more in this department from a team with Austin Ekeler. The Bolts are still 2 games back of the final playoff spot in the AFC, but they need to leap over 5 teams with 5 games to play to get there. I’m not even sure Jim Carey would say “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” in this case.
The Lakers took care of the Rockets on Saturday at Crytpo.com arena, but I still don’t know what to make of the team. On one hand, I’m getting very tired of their excuses. They built this team with depth to withstand injury, and they did last spring. On the other hand, missing Rui Hachimura and Jared Vanderbilt is nothing to sneeze at. 12-9 is certainly much better than where they were last year, and still better than the likes of the Warriors and Clippers. However, they still have a lot to figure out. There was once a time where most Laker fans would have given up the Lakers girls and Dyan Cannon for just one good wing player. Now suddenly, the Lakers have 3 or 4 solid ones, and maybe even some reliable 3-point shooting. That includes D’Angelo Russell, and for all his flaws, he’s actually playing really well. In fact, the assumption that D’Lo will get moved has overshadowed how well he’s actually playing. I’m also even warming up to the idea of this in-season tournament, because if the Lakers play more meaningful games, it will help them build that chemistry and cohesiveness they are working towards much faster. We’ll see what that looks like on Tuesday against the Suns in the quarterfinals.
As for the Clippers, it looked like they were building some chemistry a week ago, but they are still struggling to put the pieces together after the James Harden trade. Sure they beat the Warriors, but they have their own problems, giving away leads consistently because they apparently think they need to be generous during the holiday season. Russell Westbrook is also becoming a problem too, with James Harden acknowledging that Russ is frustrated with his lack of minutes. Oh, so suddenly Russ could be a problem? I was told a week ago by the PR spin doctors in the Clipper corporate office that it was all his suggestion to go the bench and that it was totally selfless. Suuuuuure. I think they will continue to find ways to score, but I don’t see them having the size or the defense right now to be truly elite. That might ultimately hurt them. More than anything though, Kawhi, PG, and Harden have to figure out how to efficiently divide the basketball among the three of them.
In baseball, the Winter Meetings are getting underway this week. These reports on Shohei Ohtani are telling us absolutely nothing. I expect better from the likes of Jon Morosi and Bob Nightengale, than to tell me he’s going to sign “sometime between now and Christmas, but it could also happen in the next week or later.” If it is really coming down to the Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays, and Cubs, this is simply about using other teams for leverage against the Dodgers. I don’t believe for a second Ohtani wants to play in the Midwest or Canada. I also don’t believe for a second that Arte Moreno can outbid any of those teams. If the Dodgers get Shohei Ohtani, great, but that better not impact their ability to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They desperately need him as their front of the rotation starter. Super smart move by Joe Kelly to agree to a deal with the Dodgers, in case Ohtani signs after him. He can sell his #17 to Ohtani for a Kings Randsome!
There’s also some news about the Angels. With the flurry of moves they made toward the end of the season, they stayed under the 2023 Luxury Tax Threshold. This will save Arte Moreno tons of money. I’m sure Angel fans everywhere are relieved that Arte will now be able to feed his family with all the money he saved, since he acts like he owns a poverty franchise. I’m also amused when I hear the Angels name in any trade rumors involving good players. They don’t have a farm system good enough right now that would allow them to even get a picture of a good player sent to them, let alone a good player.
What a complete disaster week for UCLA. They decide not to fire Chip Kelly, instantly Dante Moore enters the transfer portal, and they lose their OC D’Anton Lynn to USC. It’s hard to feel bad for the Bruins though. They made their beds with the decision to keep Kelly, and now they have to sleep in it. This is where the alumni need to step up and make their voice heard. And by alumni, I don’t mean Casey Wasserman, who had the bright idea to keep Chip Kelly. Thanks to him, UCLA is going to lose its highest recruit ever. This is just a reminder that UCLA is not serious about having a good football program.
I don’t know what the hell happened to UCLA Basketball against UC Riverside, but they were nearly embarrassed. Had they lost, they probably wouldn’t have been allowed back in Westwood again. I don’t care about the injuries either. There is no world where the UCLA Bruin Basketball team should ever lose to UC Riverside unless prime Michael Jordan is playing for the Highlanders. In any case, it’s a good thing the Bruins don’t play until December 9th because they need the time to get healthy.
Finally, the last 4-Team College Football Playoff was announced yesterday. With Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama getting in. That leaves Florida State with the biggest gripe for not getting in. It’s like George Kostanza himself picked the four teams. However, it’s also a reminder that College Football isn’t always about the results on the field. The Champion has never been determined in the most fair way, even with what we thought were improvements to the system. Next year might get a little better with 12-teams, but then we’ll still be debating what 9-3 teams should be invited to the party.