One line to fool them all – 10.5.15

Sports talk is frequently used as a common language but it’s far from universal. If you’re someone who doesn’t follow or even understand sports, you can find yourself at a disadvantage in common small-talk situations like in an elevator, waiting for a bus, sitting at a bar, or around the proverbial water cooler at work. Even if you are a sports fan, it’s impossible to watch everything and know everything. To help in these situations, we provide lines to use when engaged in a conversation about all of the high profile sporting events of the day, plus explanations of what they mean.

NFL Football

New York Jets 27 vs. Miami Dolphins 14 in London

Line: The Philbin watch is on.

What it means: Joe Philbin is the Miami Dolphins head coach. Although by the time you’re reading this, he could be their former coach. Rumors were flying last week that if the Dolphins lost their game in London against the Jets, the team may fire Philbin. They lost. Fans are watching to see if he gets fired.

New York Giants 24 at Buffalo Bills 10

Line: Live by the Rex, die by the Rex.

What it means: When the Buffalo Bills got off to a hot start this season, new head coach Rex Ryan got a lot of the credit. He’s known for being a defensive mastermind and someone who players absolutely love playing for. His teams are also known for getting a little too amped up, which sometimes — maybe always — leads them into taking too many penalties and making other mistakes. That was the story today in the Bills game against the Giants. In the last two weeks, they’ve taken 31 penalties for 275 yards. Eeek.

Carolina Panthers 37 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23

Line: Pump the breaks on crowning the undefeated Panthers. Their opponents are a combined 3-12.

What it means: After four wins in the first four games of the season, Panthers fans are feeling pretty good about their team. As they should. But it’s not like they’ve played a very difficult schedule. The four teams they’ve played so far this year have won only three games combined and lost 12. So, perhaps we should wait and see for a few more weeks before we declare the Panthers to be a great team.

Oakland Raiders 20 at Chicago Bears 22

Line: There’s life in Chicago!

What it means: Bears fans weren’t expecting very much from their team this year, but after starting the season with three losses in three weeks, they were nearing a catatonic state. To have been beaten at home by the up-and-coming-but-still-lowly Oakland Raiders might have pushed some Bears fans over the edge. The Bears victory doesn’t suggest any sort of reawakening in Chicago, not even of a salvaging type, but it will provide some momentary solace.

Kansas City Chiefs 21 at Cincinnati Bengals 36

Line: Okay, now I’m convinced — Andy Dalton has turned the corner.

What it means: Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, has been known for playing well in the regular season and then terribly in the playoffs. That dichotomy is the primary factor in his being dismissed from any conversation about the best quarterbacks, or even the very, very good quarterbacks in the league. He won’t truly get a chance to change his reputation until he wins in the playoffs but his superb play in the first four games of this season, leading his team to an undefeated record, should make some impact.

Houston Texans 21 at Atlanta Falcons 48

Line: This never would have happened if J.J. Watt was alive.

What it means: J.J. Watt, the phenomenal Texans defensive lineman is, of course, alive. But it’s hard to believe that his team allowed 48 points, even to a high-powered offensive team like the Falcons. This game wasn’t even as close as the score suggests. The Texans scored all 21 of their points in the fourth quarter, when the game was already basically over.

Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at Indianapolis Colts 16

Line: 40 year-old Matt Hasselbeck lead the Colts to an overtime victory. There’s hope for us yet!

What it means: Colts fans could have been forgiven for feeling frightened by the prospect of playing a game without their star quarterback Andrew Luck. They shouldn’t have worried. 40 year-old backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who most people probably thought had been out of the league for a handful of years already, started the game and played well enough for the team to win in overtime.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Washington Redskins 23

Line: The whole NFC East is a mess. What a disaster.

What it means: The NFC East with these two teams, the New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys, is the most famous and infamous division in football. With all four teams in major cities (and television markets) they draw the biggest audiences and attract the most attention. That’s why it’s a little funny and maybe a little schadenfreude-esque when the division is bad. This year, all four teams seem bad.

Cleveland Browns 27 at San Diego Chargers 30

Line: God hates Cleveland.

What it means: The Browns are the hard-luck story of the NFL. No matter what they do right, they seem to do something bigger and more important wrong. Today, it was an offside penalty in the last second that gave the Chargers a second chance to kick a game winning field goal after their first attempt missed. That’s real Cleveland Browns football!

Minnesota Vikings 20 at Denver Broncos 23

Line:  These might be the two best defenses in the league.

What it means: Let everyone else talk about offensive stars like Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. You can show yourself to be a true football fan by pointing out that the Vikings defense intercepted Peyton Manning twice and the Broncos defense sacked Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seven (that’s an absurdly high number of sacks) times!

Green Bay Packers 17 at San Francisco 49ers 3

Line: The Packers didn’t do much, but they didn’t need to do very much. The 49ers [your choice of derogatory but not vulgar or bigoted term]!

What it means: The Packers are a truly excellent team. The 49ers are not. There wasn’t much more too this game.

St. Louis Rams 24 at Arizona Cardinals 22

Line: If the Rams could play half as well against everyone else as they do within their division, they’d be a playoff team.

What it means: The Rams have a funny habit of playing much better against the other three teams in their division – the Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers – than anyone else. So far this year, they’re 2-0 against the Seahawks and Cardinals – both of which are more well-regarded than the Rams – and 0-2 against everyone else. It’s a small sample size, but it continues a pattern from previous seasons.

Dallas Cowboys 20 at New Orleans Saints 26

Line: Brandon Weeden looked like Tony Romo but Drew Brees looked like Drew Brees. Advantage, Saints.

What it means: The Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback, Tony Romo, is out for the next month with a broken collarbone. Backup quarterback Brandon Weeden played so well at times in this game that you’d be forgiven for thinking he actually was Tony Romo. Alas for Cowboys fans, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose play this year had so far been below his own standards and who was suffering from a bruised rotator cuff, looked like his old self. This was an exciting game and it went into overtime where a long pass from Brees to running back C.J. Spiller, ended it decisively in favor of the Saints.

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