Good morning and congratulations on making it to the midway point of the work week! We had a surprising amount of sports to take in last night — playoff baseball, a random mid-week NFL game and “The Bachelorette” (Yes, it counts.)

While we won’t be talking about who got roses this morning, we will discuss some of the other stuff we saw last night — plus a few of the bigger stories out there today. How good do you think Le’Veon Bell felt when he woke up this morning and realized he didn’t have to go to work and answer to Adam Gase for another day in his life? I only hope you can experience even a shred of that kind of joy today.


📰 What you need to know

1. No practice, no problem for Titans 🏈

My brain felt like it was malfunctioning all day yesterday as I looked forward to a primetime NFL game… on a Tuesday. But that was our reality last night thanks to the Bills and Titans finally meeting in Tennessee after a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Titans were hit hard by coronavirus and embroiled in quite a bit of chaos leading up to this game. They hadn’t played in 16 days and they were forced to stop practicing for a little bit thanks to the NFL’s COVID protocols (which they may or may not have broken) but… hey, rust? What rust? Tennessee registered a dominant 42-16 win over Buffalo to stay undefeated (4-0) while the Bills earned their first loss of the year (4-1).

Are you Malcolm Butler? Because you’re about to get some takeaways.

  • Why the Titans won: The numbers suggested Tennessee would get picked apart by Josh Allen and the Bills. The Titans came into this game with a bottom-three defense and were missing a couple of top cornerbacks, which seemed like it could be devastating against the Bills’ No. 2 passing offense in the league. Buffalo was averaging 316.3 passing yards per game and 30.8 points per game but the Titans played great, holding Allen to 263 passing yards and picking him off twice
  • Why the Bills lost: Buffalo was banged up and they had major trouble with their defensive coverage all game long. They were able to hold Derrick Henry to just 57 yards on the ground but didn’t quite have the same success against the pass. Ryan Tannehill was efficient and smart through the air, throwing for three touchdowns. Buffalo’s turnovers also helped set up the Titans with short scoring drives

I wasn’t expecting the Titans to return with such a vengeance, and I certainly wasn’t expecting this game to be as ugly and one-sided as it ended up being. (Hence why I lost quite a bit of coin riding with Buffalo!) It was an especially bad night for Buffalo cornerback Josh Norman, who not only had some troubles in coverage but also got stiff armed into another dimension by Henry. I can only hope he didn’t check his Twitter mentions last night.

At this point, the Titans might hold the same views as Allen Iverson regarding practice. 


2. Where is Le’Veon Bell headed? 🏈

 
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Le’Veon Bell’s tenure in New York didn’t exactly go so well after he signed his four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March of 2019. It feels like we’ve spent much of the last year waiting for the bottom to fall out in that relationship and, with the Jets in the midst of a disastrous season, the end finally came yesterday. (For Bell, at least. Sorry, Jets fans… you’re stuck with this team.)

After reportedly looking to trade Bell for about a year — including shopping for deals ahead of this season’s deadline on October 29 — the Jets decided to cut Bell yesterday. With the running back now a free agent, our Tyler Sullivan highlighted some potential landing spots that would make sense for the running back. 

  • Steelers: A reunion, you say? It could work. The Steelers reportedly kicked the tires on re-acquiring Bell last season. The divorce between Bell/Pittsburgh wasn’t pretty but he’s had plenty of success there and sometimes distance makes the heart grow fonder (especially when your time away is spent with the Jets)
  • Bears: Chicago is off to a surprising 4-1 start but they lost Tarik Cohen for the year due to a torn ACL. Replacing him with Bell — a more than capable pass-catching back — would make a whole lot of sense and provide another weapon to an offense in need
  • Cardinals: James Saxon, the currents Cards running backs coach, held the same position with the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout Bell’s tenure with the organization. Arizona could use a boost in the backfield because Kenyan Drake, who is on a one-year deal, has been mediocre this year

Sully also lists a couple of other options, so feel free to check those out. Regardless of where he goes, I’m not sure the Jets are making the right call by siding with Adam Gase — a coach who has a .333 winning percentage in two seasons with the team — over Bell in this situation.


3. Astros fall apart, go down 3-0 in ALCS ⚾


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I’m not much of a “karma” person when it comes to sports. I tend to believe in randomness and coincidences more than righteous acts imposed by the sports gods… but the Houston Astros may just make me a believer. 

It was hard not to come away from Game 3 of the ALCS not thinking that Houston has some supernatural forces working against them following their cheating scandal last offseason. After losing the first two games of their series against the Rays, the Astros needed a strong start in Game 3… and they got it. But things eventually fell apart, and they fell apart quickly and pretty inexplicably.

Ultimately, Tampa took a 5-2 win to go up 3-0 and push the Astros to the brink of elimination. So, what happened in Game 3?

  • Jose Altuve makes another huge error: Altuve picked a reeeeeeally unfortunate time to come down with a case of the yips. His throwing accuracy in the field has been a disaster in this series and he made another massive, costly error on Tuesday. While the Astros were protecting a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, Altuve threw a potential 4-6-3 double play ball into left field. Instead of Houston securing two outs, the Rays were gifted two runners on base. Tampa went on to put all five of their runs on the board in that frame
  • Rays are playing spectacular defense: While Altuve can’t hit the ocean from the beach, Tampa is somehow making web gem after web gem in the field. They put on a clinic defensively on Tuesday night, frustrating the Astros with several incredible defensive plays that kept runs off the board
  • Randy Arozarena stays hot: It’s just ridiculous how good Arozarena has been this postseason. He went 4 for 8 in Tampa’s sweep over the Blue Jays and hit three home runs against the Yankees in the ALDS. He added three more hits last night, making him the first rookie ever (and the fifth player in general) with four three-hit games in a single postseason 

It seems like the Rays have everything going their way so far, and now Houston is going to need a miracle turnaround to save the season. It’s probably safe to say that not many baseball fans are weeping for the Astros down 3-0.

Of course, that wasn’t the only series on the diamond yesterday. The Dodgers lost AGAIN, 8-7, though they nearly mounted an incredible late-game comeback after trailing 7-0. That bid ultimately fell short and now the Braves hold a commanding 2-0 series lead as they continue through the postseason without a single loss on their record (7-0).

It’s too early to count anyone out just yet but Rays-Braves would be the World Series that absolutely no one saw coming. That being said, it would probably be a damn good one — at least from an entertainment perspective, not a marketing perspective.


4. Most Power Five schools in favor of forming own NCAA division 👀


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Remember when we talked about 2020 being a potential landmark year for the NCAA and how the organization presides over college sports moving forward? How we talked about the Power Five conferences potentially breaking away from the NCAA in order to operate independently and govern themselves? 

Well, here’s something tangentially related to that idea: A new survey published this week has revealed that a majority of Power Five schools are in favor of breaking away to form their own division within the NCAA.

  • A Knight Commission survey revealed Tuesday that  61% of Power Five schools support establishing their own division within the NCAA that could decide its own operating rules
  • The survey also revealed less than half (44%) of all respondents (351 Division I schools) support the FBS actually separating from the NCAA
  • The commission concluded there was a “wide dissatisfaction with how Division-I college sports are run” and there is “overwhelming support for major reform” of NCAA governance  
  • The conferences are displeased with the NCAA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to other issues, such as name, image and likeness rights

Essentially, the 65 schools in the Power Five would all comprise a new division under the NCAA umbrella in all sports except basketball. This sort of arrangement would allow the Power Five schools to establish new rules for scholarship limits and amateurism guidelines, among other things. 

I mean, at this rate, it kind of feels like the Power Five conferences are all sort of operating on their own anyway, right? Might as well just unite them and make it official.


📝 Odds & Ends


📺 What to watch tonight

⚾ Braves vs. Dodgers, 6:05 p.m. | LAD -157 | TV: FS1

⚾ Astros vs. Rays, 8:40 p.m. | HOU +101 | TV: TBS


📝 Top scores from last night


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🏈 Titans 42, Bills 16

Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the Titans’ blowout win.
💵 Winning Wagers: TEN +140, Over (52)

Braves 8, Dodgers 7

Braves 1B Freddie Freeman went 2 for 4 with a home run and three RBI.
💵 Winning Wagers: ATL +126, Over (8.5) 

⚾ Rays 5, Astros 2

Joey Wengle had two hits and two RBI while also scoring a run of his own.
💵 Winning Wagers: TB -109, Under (8.5)

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