The following article is meant to act as a buffer of basic sports facts for the super casual non-sports fan. Although Canadian Thanksgiving is long gone, Christmas is fast approaching, and it’s good to have the basic narratives at-the-ready so that you may not sit in silence at family dinner when the sports banter leaks into the conversation.
McDavid is healthy, he’s producing and in spurts he’s helping the Oilers win games. After a hot start, the Oilers have begun showing some of the vulnerability of previous seasons in embarrassing losses to the Stars, Islanders, and Penguins (we blew a 3-1 lead. Welp.) Yet at 11-8-1, the Oilers stand atop the Pacific Division still, and for now, the Oilers fanbase can feel good about the prospects for the season. Is this the year the Oilers reclaim a spot in the post-season race? I’m unsure, but I have a rabbit’s foot, a four-leafed clover, and a kidnapped Leprechaun that says it is so if only I’d let him go.
The great Western dominance is over, as this year looks to be the year of the Eastern Conference. Strong early season performances from the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and the incumbent champion Pittsburgh Penguins have it looking like a barnburner in the East. Remiss though I am to admit it, if a Canadian team is going to win a championship this year (not that it matters with half the league’s players hailing from the great white north), then it will likely be out of the Eastern Conference.
Montreal Canadiens vs. St Louis Blues
This isn’t your daddy’s AFC. Well, it kind of is. The Patriots are still superb on both ends of the football, and have racked up an impressive 8-2 record heading into a week 12. The only other AFC team with an 8-2 record heading into week 12? The Oakland Raiders.
Maybe it was the disgrace of watching their basketball team blow a 3-1 lead. Maybe Derek Carr sold his soul to John Elway for a clutch cannon of a throwing arm. Maybe the subtle additions of former champions Malcolm Smith and Bruce Irvin from the Seattle Seahawks was just what the troops needed to execute a full frontal assault on the rest of the league. I’m inclined to believe all three claims. Either way, Oakland is balling out, and if you don’t have a favourite football team, this is last call for anyone requesting a seat on the bandwagon.
Almost more impressive than the unprecedented resurgence of the Oakland Raiders, is the new crown holder of “the NFL’s pre-eminent team”, the Dallas Cowboys. And they didn’t even need Tony Romo to do it. Freshman QB stud Dak Prescott has done the unthinkable and brought “America’s Team” to a 9-1 record, the best in the NFL, while Tony Romo has been sidelined. In a bizarre turn of events, last year’s Super Bowl contenders, Carolina Panthers, have the 3rd worst record in the NFC, and they have all but taken their bow from the 2016-2017 NFL postseason. And the Seahawks are back baby! Their record only being marred by the ugly ‘1’ in the tie column, the Seahawks have quietly regained form and should look to push deep into the postseason, likely a berth in the NFC championship game.
AFC Champions- Oakland Raiders | NFC Champions- Seattle Seahawks
All is not well in Oakland. It’s Golden. But they shouldn’t wag their chins too high in the air. The Los Angeles Clippers are breathing on the neck of the 2 time NBA Finals participants. With the Kevin Durant experiment producing great results on offense, this team is primed for a third Finals matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The general opinion doesn’t determine the Finals matchup however, basketball games do (it’s why they have to play the games of course). That being said, Golden State’s path to a third straight finals looks much more perilous than the path for the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers have already steamrolled through all of their “competition” in the Eastern Conference thus far, losing only when they’ve allowed LeBron a night to rest. On the other side of the coin, Golden State lost by 30 to San Antonio on opening night at home, and then lost again at home to the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that many figured to bottom out of the league this year (spoiler: they haven’t). Pile on the fact that the Warriors rank 2nd to the Los Angeles Clippers in the West, and all of a sudden it’s quite the mountain that the Warriors must climb to reach a 3rd straight Finals.
The Toronto Raptors have faltered a couple of teams this season already and are looking shaky heading to Christmas. Toronto’s superstar shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan, is putting up MVP like numbers though, and an uptick on defense should help the team win more close games. If, like many Canadians, you default to cheer for the Toronto Raptors, know that unless LeBron gets injured, a berth into the NBA Finals is a longshot. Sorry.
Hopeful NBA Finals Matchup: San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Dunk-Heavy NBA Finals Matchup: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Dunking the puck in the endzone,