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Underdogs ruled the NFL in Week 1, but will the trend continue? Plus, Packers plummet in latest power rankings

Hello sports fanatics, Shanna McCarriston here to deliver you all the news of the day. Let’s get ready to kick off your Wednesday with a question: What is your biggest overreaction of the NFL season so far? Let me know on Twitter what you think. Will the Bills end up struggling? Are the Browns an AFC team to beat? (My answer is yes on that one.) Whatever you’re thinking just based off of just one week of the NFL so far, let me know.

Today we will discuss a few things in the NFL and also talk Champions League results and some NBA news while we’re at it.

Let’s get started.


📰 What you need to know

1. NFL Power Rankings: Packers plummet 🏈

One thing about the NFL: it is full of surprises. That was true this week, as we witnessed the most underdog wins in over three decades (we will dive more into that later in this newsletter.)

This means the power rankings we had last week? Yeah those are all shook up.

Heading into the season, we went over Pete Prisco’s power rankings and I told you if he was wrong, not to be too hard on him. Well, I hope you remembered that, because five of his top 10 teams lost, including two in the top five.

The Buffalo Bills, who went into Week 1 in our No. 2 spot, fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Green Bay, what can I even say? The team seemed almost to not show up in a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers did not look like himself. Let’s try not to overreact, but since each win is so valuable in the league we can’t totally ignore this surprising week. 

Here is the top of Prisco’s new power rankings, along with how many spots each team moved up or down:

  • No. 1: Buccaneers, didn’t move
  • No. 2: Chiefs, moved up one
  • No. 3: 49ers, moved up three
  • No. 4: Rams, moved up four
  • No. 5: Cardinals, moved up four
  • No. 6: Saints, moved up 13
  • No. 7: Steelers, moved up 14
  • No. 8: Seahawks, moved up 10
  • No. 9: Bills, moved down seven
  • No. 10: Packers, moved down six

Like I said, there was a big shake up this week. For the full rankings and commentary, click here.

The Packers still have Rodgers, but they need to seriously bounce back to convince me they will remain contenders. I can see the Bills bouncing back from their loss easier than the Packers. 

Meanwhile, the Browns dropped seven spots despite nearly beating defeating the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Prisco explained that it is because they need to learn how to win big games. That’s some tough love, but hey, this is the NFL we are talking about.

2. Champions League: Recapping the first day of action ⚽


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The first Champions League games are behind us and, wow, what a fun first day it was. Chelsea, the defending champions, beat Zenit Saint Petersburg 1-0 in a hard-fought battle. Meanwhile, Manchester United suffered a stunning 2-1 loss to Young Boys in Bern.

Sevilla vs. Salzburg was one to see, ending 1-1, but Villarreal vs. Atalanta was even more competitive. That game ended 2-2, as both team blew a lead along the way.

For the top performer of the day, we are giving that to Robert Lewandowski. He scored his 74th and 75th Champions League goals in Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win over Barcelona.

Here are the full results from the first day of UCL action:

  • Sevilla 1, Salzburg 1 
  • Young Boys 1, Manchester United 2
  • Barcelona 0, Bayern Munich 3
  • Dynamo Kyiv 0, Benfica 0 
  • Villarreal 2, Atalanta 2
  • LOSC 0, Wolfsburg 0   
  • Chelsea 1, Zenit 0 
  • Malmo 0, Juventus 3

For full commentary on the matches thus far, click here.

3. NFL underdogs had a historically successful Week 1 💰

Everyone loves an underdog story, and there were a ton in the first week of the NFL story. In fact, during Week 1 we witnessed the most underdog wins in the NFL in the last 38 years.

Underdogs had a winning record of 9-7 for the first time since 1983.

Here’s a list of the Week 1 underdog winners:

Additionally, the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions — all underdogs — covered their spreads, despite all three losing.

The Steelers beating the Bills, 23-16, was the biggest of all of those upsets, as Pittsburgh were 6.5-point underdogs at most major sports books.

The week of underdog victors ended with a thrilling Raiders victory, as Las Vegas defeated the Ravens in overtime, 33-27. That capped off a historic week, and a successful one if you’re a gambler who likes putting money on underdogs.

Will this trend continue? We’ll be back to pick this conversation up tomorrow with picks for Week 2.

4. Damian Lillard trade rumors have created a fake perception of the Blazers 🏀


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Hot takes are called hot takes for a reason and the whole point of them is that not everyone will agree. Sports fans are known to get carried away, so sometimes the hot takes go a little far.

That setup is all for me to discuss the Damian Lillard trade rumors around the suggestion that the Portland Trail Blazers are not a championship team. Some have forgotten that, while Portland might not be an upper-class contender, they do have the chance to be a top-four seed in their conference. That’s not too shabby.

Here is a breakdown of what the Trail Blazers are working with, from the ups to the downs:

  • They brought in Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. last year, but they weren’t as impactful on defense around Lillard as expected. In short, the offense tanked with Jones on the court
  • Larry Nance Jr. is similar to Jones, but he will likely create extra possessions. Nance also gives the Blazers more lineup options
  • They are bringing back Norman Powell
  • The Lillard-CJ McCollum duo is still one of the best in the league

Last year, the starting lineup put up 14.2 points per 100 possessions. This was ranked second only to Philadelphia’s starters among lineups with at least 700 minutes of court time. The team already has some solid options on that bulleted list above, with struggles that can be addressed.

Speaking of Philly, CBS Sports’ own Brad Botkin says they should still be looking at a CJ McCollum trade — particularly if Ben Simmons is available for a realistic package. But besides trades, you know what makes Portland dangerous, especially in big games? Lillard!

  • Botkin: “The Blazers’ best shot at a non-circumstantial, deep postseason run remains Lillard going nuclear. It’s always been that way”

None of us are in Lillard’s head though, and it will be interesting to see how the relationship progresses and what takes place the first few months of the season. But the theory that the Trail Blazers need to make massive changes to become a contender is simply not true.


📝 Odds & Ends


USATSI


📺 What to watch tonight

⚾ Red Sox vs. Mariners, 4:10 p.m. | SEA +110 | TV: MLB.TV

⚾ Yankees vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m. | BAL +165 | TV: MLB.TV

Padres vs. Giants, 9:45 p.m. | SF +110 | TV: MLB.TV


🏅 Best thing I saw on the internet

Today I’m going to mix things up and add a little fashion to the newsletter. Fashion and sports go hand-in-hand more than some realize, with pregame outfits and sponsorship deals being a major part of the off-the-field (or court) aspect. With the MET Gala returning on Monday, it only seems appropriate that we discuss some looks that deal with sports.

Ciara, wife of Russell Wilson, came dressed in a sequins dress in Seahawks colors with a jersey No. 3 in honor of Russ. She was also holding a bedazzled football and wearing Wilson’s Super Bowl ring. Sports are truly everywhere!




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