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.
U.S. Open Tennis
Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in four sets
Line: Roger Federer may be the best ever but Djokovic is just too good.
What it means: This seemingly confusing statement makes sense because of the two players’ relative ages. Federer, who is now 34, is thought to be one of the greatest players ever. He holds records for being ranked number one in the world for almost six years consecutively, and for winning 17 Grand Slam (the important four tournaments) titles. Djokovic, on the other hand, is just 28, firmly in his tennis prime. Although he’s not (yet?) thought of as a player with the type or extent of greatness that Federer is, given the disparity in age, he is demonstrably stronger than Federer now. He’s won the past three Grand Slam finals that the two have met in.
Kansas City Chiefs 27 at Houston Texans 20
Line: So maybe Alex Smith just didn’t have good receivers.
What it means: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has been criticized throughout his career for being unable or unwilling to throw the ball down the field. Last year he didn’t throw a single touchdown to a wide receiver all year. He still hasn’t, but he already looks more comfortable with throwing it downfield, perhaps because he has much more talented players to throw the ball to.
Indianapolis Colts 14 at Buffalo Bills 27
Line: The Colts won’t win until they can compete physically.
What it means: Of course, it’s silly to claim any professional football team isn’t physical but the Colts have lost their last two games (last year in the playoffs against New England and this game) because they couldn’t keep a more physical team from pushing them around.
Green Bay Packers 31 at Chicago Bears 23
Line: Did you see what Matt Forte said at the press conference? LOL.
What it means: The Bears were a giant disaster last year and, after their loss today, their star running back Matt Forte had this to say:
Matt Forte: "The mentality of this offense, which I'm proud of, is nobody had that stupid look on their face [when down 31-16] like before."
— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) September 13, 2015
As reasonable as this might seem, it comes off as unintentional humor in a culture that believes there’s no other goal but winning.
Line: Who needs offense when you’re playing the Jaguars?
What it means: The biggest concern for the Panthers this year is their lack of quality wide receivers for quarterback Cam Newton to aim for. Today’s game didn’t lesson that concern, but since the Panthers were playing one of the weaker teams in the league, the Jacksonville Jaguars, they were still able to win.
Cleveland Browns 10 at New York Jets 31
Line: Johnny Football didn’t look half bad!
What it means: “Johnny Football” is the nickname of Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel was a popular figure when he played in college but has not been a success so far in the NFL. He wasn’t supposed to play in this game but after the starting quarterback, Josh McCown, left with an injury, he was forced into action. He played decently despite the large loss.
Miami Dolphins 17 at Washington Redskins 10
Line: The Dolphins won, but I think I’d be more optimistic if I were a Redskins fan.
What it means: How happy you are as a fan is all about expectations. Dolphins fans thought their team was going to take a leap from good to great this year. Redskins fans thought their team might not win a game. They didn’t win this one, but they played much better than expected.
Seattle Seahawks 31 at St. Louis Rams 34
Line: The Seahawks finally gave the ball to Beastmode and they still lost.
What it means: Last season, the Seattle Seahawks lost the Super Bowl when a pass near the goal-line was intercepted by the New England Patriots. Many people felt they should have handed the ball off to running back Marshawn Lynch, nicknamed “Beastmode” and one of the best in the league. In this game, facing a must-have fourth down in overtime, they did just that – hand the ball to Lynch – and he couldn’t get the first down.
Detroit Lions 28 at San Diego Chargers 33
Line: Classic Lions, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
What it means: The Detroit Lions were winning 28 to 3 in this game before everything went wrong for them and everything went right for the Chargers. Unfortunately for Lions fans, this type of monumental collapse is not uncommon. The Lions have been known as an immature team for so long that some of their players have gotten old without ever shaking that label.
New Orleans Saints 19 at Arizona Cardinals 31
Line: The Cardinals are great, I just don’t think Palmer can last the season and I can’t believe they still don’t have a reasonable backup. What a waste of surrounding talent.
What it means: The Arizona Cardinals are both very good and very lovable. Their Achilles heel is that their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, is slightly old and slightly injury prone and their offensive system requires him to get hit over and over and over again. Combine that with their not having a good enough backup and their seasons tend to get torpedoed by injury. It’s fun to root for them early in the season though, before the injuries pile up.
Cincinnati Bengals 33 at Oakland Raiders 13
Line: And just like that, all the positivity around the Raiders is gone. Same old Raiders.
What it means: The Oakland Raiders have been bad for most of the past 15 years. Their fans were hoping that they had improved this year, particularly because of their promising second year quarterback, Derek Carr. But by halftime of the first game, Carr was gone because of an injury, and the Raiders were being beaten badly.
Baltimore Ravens 13 at Denver Broncos 19
Line: Don’t be surprised, this is the new Broncos.
What it means: For the past few seasons, ever since quarterback Peyton Manning came to the Broncos, they’ve been a team that was built around offense. They scored a lot of points. This year, they’re likely to win more games like this one – low-scoring, closely contested contests. It may take casual fans some time to adjust, so you can sound really in-the-know by pointing it out.
Tennessee Titans 42 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
Line: Good riddance. I would be happy if every game Jameis Winston played went like this.
What it means: This game was billed as a matchup of the two top rookie quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota for Tennessee, who was picked second overall in this year’s NFL draft, and Jameis Winston, who was picked first. Partially because Winston is so obviously not a good person, Mariota has been cast as the good one in the nascent rivalry. Well, everything went right for Good in this game and everything went wrong for Evil.
New York Giants 26 at Dallas Cowboys 27
Line: More dramatic than good.
What it means: The Sunday Night Football game is always one of the highest rated football games of the weekend and for this one, the NFL schedulers picked two of the highest profile teams to play each other. The game came in first place in our NFL Forecast. It eventually was worth it, as the Cowboys came from behind to score a touchdown with less than 15 seconds left that won them the game, but despite the game’s exciting ending, it was played sloppily by both teams throughout.