Happy Monday. January felt like it lasted both one day and three years, all at the same time. If anything, February promises to be entertaining.

In today's Sprint:

  • 🏈   New star in LA
  • 🏀   SEC, Big 12 challenge
  • ⚽   Spanish standoff

TRIVIA

What year was the LA Rams’ last first-round pick, and what year is the next first-rounder currently owned by the team?

  1. 2016; 2024
  2. 2017; 2025
  3. 2018; 2023
  4. 2016; 2022

NFL

Stafford Gets His Chance

Intro sentence.

The LA Rams traded 26-year-old Jared Goff and multiple first-round picks to the Detroit Lions for 32-year-old Matthew Stafford. Initially, the Rams look like they gave up too much for the older QB. But let’s see why that may not be the case:

LA: With a defense anchored by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, the Rams believe Matt Stafford’s ridiculous arm talent takes them over the top. Sports bettors seem to agree as the Rams now have the third-highest odds to win the 2022 Super Bowl.

Though 32 sounds old for an athlete, that’s not the case anymore, especially at the QB position. Stafford may give the Rams another five productive years.

Stafford: Due to Detroit’s struggles, Stafford is a severely underrated QB. He’s 4th all-time in both passing yards per game (273.4) and completions per game (23.6).

The Stafford family is easy to cheer for. Kelly Stafford, Matt’s wife, recovered from a brain tumor in 2019.

Detroit: From Barry Sanders to Calvin “Megatron” Johnson to Matthew Stafford, the Lions know how to waste the prime years of incredibly talented players. But the team may be learning…

The Lions’ new GM and head coach both know the team isn’t built to win next year or even the year after. Thus, they're loading up on quality draft picks.

The team will know quickly if Goff (and his massive contract) is the guy it wants to build around. If he is, great. If not, the Lions will likely use a top-pick in the 2022 draft to take a QB.

Zoom out: The NFC West now boasts the best quarterback roster of any division. Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and whoever plays QB in San Francisco next year, which may be this guy...

Deshaun Watson. Stafford is great, but in terms of trade value, only Patrick Mahomes carries more than Deshaun.

Though the Texans’ new GM and HC say they aren’t trading the 25-year-old superstar, they may change their minds after seeing the haul the Lions got for Stafford.


WEEKEND RECAP

Dame Time

Out west, it’s been all Utah and the two teams from LA to start the season. This weekend, though, a few other pre-season favorites started to play like it thanks to their respective All-Pros.

(10-8) Portland Trail Blazers 123 vs. (7-11) Chicago Bulls 122

  • Down five with 11 seconds to play, Damian Lillard (44 pts, 5 reb, 9 ast) nailed two three-pointers within the final eight seconds to get the Blazers back on track.

(12-8) Denver Nuggets 128 vs. (15-5) Utah Jazz 117

  • Nikola Jokic (47 pts, 12 reb, 5 ast) and the Denver Nuggets scored 79 points in the first half to end Utah’s 11-game win streak.

(15-6) Los Angeles Lakers 96 vs. (10-8) Boston Celtics 95

  • The two storied franchises renewed their rivalry in a close match decided by a Kemba Walker missed buzzer-beater. In his return from injury, the Lakers’ Anthony Davis put up 27 points and 14 rebounds.

(4-12) Washington Wizards 149 vs. (13-9) Brooklyn Nets 146

  • The Wizards were down five with just nine seconds remaining before this absurd sequence from Bradley Beal (37 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast) and Russell Westbrook (41 pts, 10 reb, 8 ast) put them in the lead.

NCAA

(11-4) #24 Oklahoma 66 vs. (14-4) #9 Alabama 61

  • Without leading scorer Austin Reeves, Oklahoma had to fight for its third top-ten win in a row. The Sprint has and will continue to bang the drum for the boys in Norman - keep them in mind when you fill out those brackets in a month.

(10-4) Florida 85 vs. (11-5) #11 West Virginia 80

  • The loss may prove costly for West Virginia, who play eight games in three weeks against six currently ranked opponents.

(12-5) #10 Texas Tech 76 vs. (11-5) LSU 71

  • Down seven points with one minute to play, Texas Tech relied on the clutch shooting of Mac McClung (22 pts, 5 reb) to pull away with a 12-0 run to end the game.

Play of the weekend: Duke’s Jalen Johnson dunks on a Clemson defender.

NHL

(6-0-3) Washington Capitals 4 vs. (5-1-2) Boston Bruins 3

  • Alex Ovechkin provided the game-winner just 28 seconds into OT in his first game back from COVID-19 protocol. The goal saved the Caps, who blew a 3-0 lead in regulation.

(5-3-1) Pittsburgh Penguins 5 vs. (2-4-2) New York Rangers 3

  • The Penguins needed overtime to beat a struggling Rangers squad, relying on five separate players to score, including Sidney Crosby for the game-winner.
*For those (like us) who didn’t know, the last number in a hockey record represents the team’s number of ‘Overtime Losses’ - shoutout to the reader who let us know

MLB

  • Longtime Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado will reportedly be dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Arenado, one of the league's best players, bolsters an already strong Cardinals squad.
  • Shortstop Didi Gregorius will return to the Philadelphia Phillies on a two-year, $28 million deal.

WATER COOLER TALK
  • ⚽   Superstar Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona are suing Spanish newspaper El Mundo after it released details about Messi’s four-year contract which is worth up to $674 million and expires in June 2021.
  • ⚽   A group of French club Marseille’s ”ultra fans” stormed the club’s facility and lit flares and firecrackers in protest of the team’s poor showing in the French top league Serie A.
  • 🏈   Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans will likely part ways this off-season. If he ends up in Pittsburgh with brothers T.J. and Derek, it would be a lot of wattage for opposing teams to handle.
  • ⛳   Patrick Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, shooting -14 and netting a $7.5 million purse. Reed got a bit defensive when asked about an incident on Saturday.

SHARE THE SPRINT

Talking sports with your friends is fun unless they have no idea what they're talking about. Make sure they're able to keep up with you by sharing the Sprint!

Or, copy this link to send to others - sidelinesprint.com


TRIVIA ANSWER

A. 2016 & 2024; Jared Goff was the Rams' first-round pick in 2016. Deals for Brandin Cooks, Jalen Ramsey, and Matthew Stafford mean the Rams don't have another first-rounder until 2024.

Want Sideline Sprint, the best daily sports newsletter, delivered to your inbox every morning? Try it today - it's free.