Read in Browser

Sports Section

POWERED BY

Twenty-two NFL games have been decided in the final minute of regulation or overtime this season — the most all-time through six weeks.

Undefeated and… Underrated?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals remain the only undefeated squad in the NFL — and still might be the most underrated.

Kyler Murray and co. topped Baker Mayfield and the Browns in a showdown between former Sooner quarterbacks to remain perfect on the season.

The question isn’t whether the 6-0 Cards are legit or not, but why they have yet to be considered serious contenders. They only have the sixth-best odds to win the Super Bowl (+1100*) despite leading the NFC West.

  • Their odds are higher than the 5-1 Los Angeles Rams (+800*) even though they handed them a 37-20 loss in Week 4.
  • They’re scoring the fourth-most points in the league (32.3) and allowing the second-fewest points per game (18.2).
  • Arizona’s +85 point differential trails only the Buffalo Bills.
  • Four of six wins have come against teams .500 or better — two against rival NFC West teams.
  • It’s their third 6-0 start in franchise history.

Murray — who currently has the second-best odds to win MVP (+500*) — produced one of his best stat lines of the year, throwing four touchdowns with zero interceptions. It was also his third straight game with no picks.

He signed a four-year, $35.2 million contract in 2019, which makes him the 23rd-highest-paid QB in the NFL. Talk about a bargain.

Arizona will look to win the division — and make the playoffs — for the first time since 2015. Then they’ll try for the franchise’s first Super Bowl. In the meantime, 7-0 looks realistic when they host Houston next Sunday.

Joctober Baseball

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves keep walking off, and summer investment Joc Pederson keeps paying off in October.

After Austin Riley’s walk-off RBI single beat the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS, Eddie Rosario followed suit on Sunday in Game 2 to put Atlanta two wins away from the World Series.

But the heartbeat of this team is the former Dodger, who’s only a career .232 hitter — a fact that might’ve raised eyebrows when the Braves acquired him at the trade deadline — but who is reliably clutch in the postseason.

  • The legend of “Joctober” began in 2017, when he broke a Dodgers postseason record by notching an extra-base hit in five straight games.
  • During L.A.’s World Series run last year, Pederson recorded a .991 OPS with two home runs and eight RBI in 16 games, only 10 of which he started.
  • In 64 regular-season games as a Brave, he hit .249 with seven HR and 22 RBI.
  • In Atlanta’s first six postseason games, he’s 5-for-14 with three HR and seven RBI.

The 29-year-old hit two pinch-hit homers in the NLDS against Milwaukee and smacked the longest home run of the postseason (454 ft) Sunday.

His playoff heroics haven’t yet secured a long-term stay anywhere.

Pederson signed a series of one-year deals with Los Angeles after his rookie deal expired, then a one-year, $4.5 million pact with the Cubs this offseason before being traded to Atlanta. There’s a $10 million mutual option in his contract for 2022.

Chicago’s Unexpected MVP

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Sky’s win on Sunday capped off a season of firsts — for both the team and their breakout player.

The Sky erased a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Phoenix Mercury in four games and capture the franchise’s first WNBA title.

Kahleah Copper — not Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, or Allie Quigley — was named Finals MVP, punctuating her first All-Star campaign since being drafted No. 7 overall in 2016 by Washington.

  • Copper averaged 17 points and 5.5 rebounds in the Finals.
  • She had high expectations coming out of Rutgers in a class alongside players like Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones — but was shipped to Chicago as part of the blockbuster Elena Delle Donne trade.
  • Copper primarily came off the bench from 2016-19 — and started only 12 of her first 101 games with the Sky.
  • She has now started every game since last season, a string of 54 consecutive starts.

The Sky went 16-16 in the regular season and became the lowest seed (No. 6) to win the title since the league moved to its current postseason format in 2016.

In 2020, Copper inked a two-year, $330,000 contract. Not a bad time to be an unrestricted free agent.

Making Headlines

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NBA: Over the weekend, Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges signed a four-year, $90 million deal. On Monday, the Memphis Grizzlies came to an agreement with forward Jaren Jackson Jr. worth up to $105 million over four years. The extension deadline for the class of 2018 is tonight at 6:00 p.m. ET.

NCAAF: LSU announced that head coach Ed Orgeron will leave the program following the 2021 season. The university will pay his full $16.9 million buyout over 18 installments. Orgeron won the 2019 National Championship with the Tigers.

MLB: Major League Baseball teams will provide housing for minor league players beginning in 2022, per Jeff Passan.

Win a Pair of LaLiga ElClásico Tickets

In addition to winning gear, every referral will earn an entry into the LaLiga 2022 ElClásico ticket giveaway (ends Oct. 31)! ESPN is the new home of LaLiga in the U.S. Follow the best soccer league in the world with the top stars streaming every match across all ESPN platforms. Subscribe now

It’s easy to spread the word. Copy and paste your unique link below and share it in an email or on your timeline. One referral = one entry.

Your custom referral link: [RH_REFLINK]

Or use these one-tap sharing methods:

Email // Twitter // Facebook

Comments? Suggestions? You can reach us at team@thesportssection.com.

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.