Root, Root, Root for the “Home” Team
As the San Francisco 49ers were getting ready to head to Los Angeles to play the Rams last week, they found out that Santa Clara County was prohibiting all contact sports until at least December 21, which meant they were a football team without a home. And this is when you find out who your frenemies really are, as the 49ers have touched down in Arizona where they will be playing at State Farm Stadium for at least the next two weeks and practicing at the facility where the Cardinals held training camp.It is quite the undertaking to have to move an entire football operation to another city, but the 49ers have done it and now they look to Monday Night Football and the Buffalo Bills. After upsetting the Rams last week, San Francisco is 5-6 and in the playoff hunt. Are you ready for some football?
Another NFC West Showdown
A day before the aforementioned Monday Night Football game, the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals will host the 7-4 Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, in yet another important NFC West match-up. If the playoffs started today, the Rams would have the fifth-seed and the Cardinals would have the seventh. With only one game separating them, this one matters, like a lot. The match-up to watch will be Cardinals’ All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins against the Rams’ secondary, namely All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Hopkins has 77 receptions for 967 yards and four touchdowns so farthis season, while Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray continues to be a threat in the air and on the ground, with 650 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs. Again, he’s the quarterback.That being said, Murray is going to have to contend with Rams’ defensive linemen Aaron Donald and his league-leading 10 sacks. Donald single-handedly led a Rams almost-comeback last week against San Francisco, but it turns out there’s a reason it’s a team sport and he couldn’t do it alone.With both teams dealing with a myriad of injuries, it will come down to who can make plays – Murray or the Rams’ defense. TBD, Fangirl Nation.
Browns at Titans
For the first time in what feels like forever, the 8-3 Cleveland Browns will not have a losing season, no matter how they finish out their next five games. But for a team that currently holds the fifth-seed in the AFC playoff picture, they’d like to finish strong. Next up for Cleveland are the 8-3, AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans.
Both teams can run the ball, as the Browns are averaging a league-leading 161.4 rushing yards per game behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, while the Titans are averaging 158.2 rush yards per game behind Derrick Henry, who is looking for his second-straight rushing title.Tennessee boasts the fewest turnovers in the league with only five, but defensive end Myles Garrett will be back on the field for Cleveland after missing two games after testing positive for COVID-19. Garrett currently has 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, so…The Browns are looking for their first playoff berth since 2002, and the Titansare looking for their first division title since 2008. The Browns only have one win over a team that currently has a winning record. It’s a big one, friends.
The Lake Show
The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers have made sure they will stay contenders for the foreseeable future. As reported yesterday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Anthony Davis has agreed to a five-year, $190 million deal with Los Angeles that will keep him with the Lakers through the 2024-2025 season. Davis was an integral part of the Lakers championship run, averaging 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals in the postseason.Earlier in the week, LeBron James agreed to a two-year, $85 million contract extension that will keep him in LA through 2023-2024. We may see a couple more championships from the purple and gold.Mr.
Westbrook Goes to Washington
Two unhappy point guards should be feeling happier this week, as the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets have agreed to a trade that will send Russell Westbrook to Washington and John Wall to Houston. The Rockets will get Wall and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round draft pick, and the Wizards get Russ. Wall has not played since December 2018, as he has battled both knee and achilles injuries. Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and former M.V.P., has three years and $133 million left on his contract.