Happy Friday, everyone! You’ve made it through the last NFL-free week of the year, and we have a full slate of college football upcoming.
Let’s get right to it.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS…
The Cavs are ready to win right now. Donovan Mitchell is the latest and biggest piece of the puzzle. Cleveland acquired Mitchell in a blockbuster trade with the Jazz that continues Cleveland’s ascension and confirms Utah’s rebuild. Here are the details:
- G Donovan Mitchell
- G Collin Sexton (who immediately signed a four-year, $72-million deal)
- F Lauri Markkanen
- G Ochai Agbaji
- Unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029
- First-round pick swaps in 2026 and 2028
This is a huge, huge trade for Cleveland. Mitchell, who turns 26 next week, is an absolute star. He’s been an All-Star each of the last three seasons, and he has at least 25 points per game each of the past two seasons. For what it’s worth, the last Cavalier to average 25 points per game in a season is LeBron James. Mitchell is even better in the postseason: His career 28.3 PPG in the playoffs is sixth all-time (min. 30 games), just barely behind James.
That’s the exact type of backcourt scoring the Cavaliers need, writes NBA expert James Herbert. Credit Cleveland for even getting to a spot where it could acquire a star. In 2018-19, the Cavaliers went 19-63, tied for the second-worst record in the league. Since then, they have added…
- Darius Garland (5th overall in 2019 NBA Draft)
- Isaac Okoro (4th overall in 2020 NBA Draft)
- Evan Mobley (3rd overall in 2021 NBA Draft)
- Jarrett Allen (acquired from the Nets in the trade that sent James Harden from Houston to Brooklyn)
All of those players are 24 years old or younger and, along with Mitchell, form a strong core. While neither Garland nor Mitchell are very good defensively, the Mobley-Allen pairing protecting the rim should assuage some of those issues. Here’s how Twitter reacted to the trade. Finally, while Mitchell had long been linked to the Knicks, New York actually made the smart decision, opines NBA guru Brad Botkin.
… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO RUSSELL WILSON
Broncos Country, let’s Ride… for the foreseeable future. Russell Wilson signed a five-year, $245-million extension that keeps him in Denver through 2028.
- The deal includes $165 million guaranteed, behind only Deshaun Watson ($230 million) and Kyler Murray ($189.5 million).
- Wilson, 33, has said that he wants to play until he’s 45.
- Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson ranks third in touchdown passes, second in wins and fifth in passer rating among qualified quarterbacks.
This is Wilson’s first year in Denver. The Broncos have not made the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl to cap the 2015 season. Wilson, meanwhile, made the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons in Seattle, including a Super Bowl win in the 2013 season.
- Spencer Strider set a Braves nine-inning game record with 16 strikeouts.
- Germany retired Dirk Nowitzki‘s No. 14 jersey.
- O.J. Howard signed with the Texans.
- Transfer Deadline Day has come and passed. Here are winners and losers.
Not so honorable mentions
- Titans Pro-Bowl LB Harold Landry tore his ACL.
- The Giants released LB Blake Martinez.
- Saints first-round OT Trevor Penning is on IR with a foot injury.
College football Week 1: Pitt, PSU get wild wins; top storylines for huge weekend 🏈
Week 1 of the college football season got underway last night and if last night is any indication, we’re in for a wild ride.
First, let’s go over that crazy Penn State-Purdue finish:
- With over eight minutes remaining and Penn State up 28-24, Sean Clifford threw a pick-six to Chris Jefferson.
- After three consecutive drives ended in a punt, Purdue got the ball with 4:28 left and the chance to run the clock out or add to its 31-28 lead.
- It did neither, punting after just one first down. And thanks to some oddly aggressive play-calling, Penn State had to use only one timeout.
- Then it was redemption time for Clifford, who engineered an eight-play, 80-yard drive capped by his touchdown toss to Keyvone Lee with 57 seconds to go.
Oh yeah, did I mention the Backyard Brawl was awesome, too? It was.
- Dodd: “College football needs a Cinderella. An expanded playoff will most assuredly provide it. So far, Cincinnati is the closest thing to it after going 12-0 last season before being dispatched by Alabama in the CFP. If Utah makes it into the Football Four this season, it would be the third first-timer in the bracket in the last two years (Michigan and Cincinnati the others). That’s why the Pac-12 jokes and jabs can stop (or at least be muffled) in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday night.“
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Who’s more dangerous in the postseason: Dodgers or Mets? ⚾
The top two teams in the NL — the Dodgers and the Mets — met for the seventh and final time this season Thursday with the Mets winning 5-3 to take the season series 4-3. The good news for the Dodgers? Clayton Kershaw returned and pitched well. Oh, and they’re still seven games up on the Mets for first in the NL.
The bad news? It was Los Angeles’ first series lost since late July.
- Perry: “I have to say Dodgers, rotation health concerns notwithstanding. The offense is elite, and they have the roster depth to play matchups very well. Also, the bullpen despite being banged up for much of the year has been one of MLB’s best to the extent that they’re probably going to have tough roster decisions among relievers in the postseason.”
NFL teams that could go from worst to first 🙌
Entering last season, the Bengals were coming off a 4-11-1 season, Joe Burrow was returning from a torn ACL and the biggest storyline surrounding Ja’Marr Chase was that he couldn’t catch. Fast forward a few months and the Bengals made the Super Bowl, Burrow established himself as one of the league’s best quarterbacks, and Chase had a rookie year for the ages.
It’s funny how quickly things can change in the NFL — remember, it stands for “Not For Long” — and that’s especially true for worst-to-first teams
Since the NFL realigned its divisions in 2002, there have been 27 teams that finished last in their division one year and first the next. Which team or teams could join that list in 2022? NFL expert John Breech took a look at all eight candidates, and his top choice is a team that would have to dethrone the Bengals to do it.
- Breech: “In what might be an NFL first: The Ravens are actually FAVORED to win the AFC North one year after their last place finish. … The thing about Baltimore is that their 8-9 record in 2021 was arguably impressive when you consider how many players they lost to injury. … Not only did they lose Lamar Jackson for five games, but they also lost key starters like cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, along with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.”
What we’re watching this weekend 📺
⚽ AC Milan vs Inter Milan, 11 a.m. on Paramount+
🏈 No. 11 Georgia vs No. 3 Oregon, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
🏈 No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 No. 7 Utah at Florida, 7 p.m. on ESPN
⚾ Twins at White Sox or Mariners at Guardians, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
🏈 No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. on ABC