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The Patriots are still the hottest team in the NFL, plus explaining the Peng Shuai situation

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Congratulations, friends! We’ve made it to Friday! There’s a football-packed weekend ahead of you followed by a short week and Thanksgiving. I’ll be on vacation next week, but before I go, here are my hottest takes on Thanksgiving food:

  • Overrated: cranberry sauce
  • Underrated: sweet potatoes
  • Just plain bad and always will be: green bean casserole

All right, hopefully you’re still reading and not tweeting mean things at me. Let’s get to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (AND THAT DOMINANT DEFENSE)

The Patriots have figured out their winning equation: a hard-nosed, ground-and-pound offense and a strong defense — the latter of which is truly hitting its stride.

New England churned out 134 rushing yards, Mac Jones threw a touchdown to Nelson Agholor and the defense recorded four interceptions and four sacks en route to a 25-0 win. It’s the Patriots’ fifth straight win. Here’s our Tyler Sullivan on the biggest reason for New England’s streak:

  • Sullivan:The Patriots’ defense continues to be the backbone of this winning streak and its improved play over the last month-plus has raised the ceiling for this team exponentially. They were able to apply pressure on Ryan early and often, and from every which way … In all, Ryan was sacked four times on the night and was hit a total of 12 times.” 

Playing on the road on a short week, the Patriots’ defense did not skip a beat. It’s the first time since 2005 that New England has held three consecutive opponents within a season to single digits. Up next for Bill Belichick and company? A home date with the AFC-leading Titans next Sunday.

A month ago, that game didn’t look like much. Now, assuming Tennessee can beat Houston this weekend (and I know it’s dangerous to assume, but still) it will feature the teams with the two longest active winning streaks in the NFL.

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The Patriots are very back.

Honorable mentions:

  • At this rate, Stephen Curry will be in this section every time he plays. He had 40 points with nine three-pointers Thursday against the Cavaliers. He outscored Cleveland BY HIMSELF 20-8 in the fourth quarter. He is simply absurd.
  • Dick Vitale is back! The iconic college basketball broadcaster, who announced in October that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, will call Tuesday’s showdown between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA. The 82-year-old is still receiving treatment, but his return will certainly bring a smile to the face of college basketball fans everywhere.

And not such a good morning for…

BIG TEN MEN’S BASKETBALL

Raise your hand if you’re a ranked Big Ten team that lost to an unranked non-conference foe in in the last five days. Illini, Wolverines, Terrapins and Buckeyes, we’re looking at you!

That’s right, the Big Ten had an AP-ranked men’s basketball team lose to an unranked non-conference foe four days in a row. It’s the first time that’s ever happened. The latest occurrence came last night when No. 19 Ohio State fell to unranked Xavier, 71-65.

Earlier in the week, this happened: 

  • Wednesday: No. 20 Maryland lost to George Mason
  • Tuesday: No. 4 Michigan lost to Seton Hall
  • Monday: No. 10 Illinois lost to Marquette

The upsets are causing plenty of shuffling in Gary Parrish’s Top 25 and 1. Last season, the Big Ten dominated the regular season and disappointed in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, it’s not waiting until March.

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Shohei Ohtani, Bryce Harper take home MVP awards ⚾


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The year 1900 marks what’s known as the “Modern Era” in baseball. Since then, there have been 2,229 instances of a pitcher recording at least 150 strikeouts in a season. There have been 353 instances of a batter hitting 40 home runs in a season.

There has been ONE — count ’em, ONE — instance of a player doing BOTH in a season… and it’s not Babe Ruth.

Say hello to your 2021 AL MVP, Shohei Ohtani. The two-way superstar took home all 30 first-place votes and became the fourth Angel to win the award, joining Mike Trout (2019, 2016, 2014), Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and Don Baylor (1979). Ohtani posted a 9-2 record on the mound, and his 46 homers were second in Angels history behind Troy Glaus, who hit 47 in 2000. He truly did it all, writes MLB expert Dayn Perry:

  • Perry: “It’s common enough to hear about players who ‘do it all,’ but in Ohtani’s case that claim approaches the literal, at least in baseball terms. Add it all up, and Ohtani’s combined WAR of 9.1 led not just the AL but all the majors this season and did so by a large margin. Yes, WAR is a bit of a blunt instrument, but it’s right in this case when it pegs Ohtani as the best player in the game for 2021.”

While it’s an incredible win for Ohtani, it’s even better for the person who placed $30,000 on Ohtani to win MVP on March 19, 2021. Ohtani had 30/1 odds at that point, meaning Caesars Sportsbook is paying out $900,000 on that bet alone.

On the NL side of things, Phillies slugger Bryce Harper made a little history himself, becoming just the fifth player to win MVP with multiple teams. Harper, who also won as a National in 2015, beat out current National Juan Soto, among others, for the award. He’s the sixth Phillies player to win MVP.

Pete Prisco’s picks for Week 11 🏈


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Pete Prisco’s Week 11 picks are here, and with a season record of 90-60-1, he’s worth listening to.

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Here are his takes on two of the weekend’s top games:

  • Packers at Vikings: “Minnesota was impressive last week winning on the road against the Chargers. But this Packers team will get the offense back on track again to go with a defense that will slow Cousins in what is a big game. Packers take it. Pick: Packers 24, Vikings 19
  • Cowboys at Chiefs: This is the game of the week, and it should be an offensive shootout between Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott. This past Sunday night, Mahomes got the offense back to what we expected to see before the season. That will carry over here. The Cowboys will score their points as well since the Chiefs defense still isn’t great, so look for a high-scoring game with the Chiefs coming out on top. Pick: Chiefs 34, Cowboys 30

The latest on the Peng Shuai situation 🎾


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Here are some key updates surrounding Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s disappearance :

  • Shuai hasn’t been seen for over two weeks since accusing retired Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in a since-deleted social media post Nov. 2.
  • On Nov. 14, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive Steve Simon called for an investigation.
  • On Nov. 17, Shuai allegedly sent Simon an email saying the WTA did not seek her consent or verification before releasing its statement. The email also says, “(t)he news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true” and that Shuai is safe. Simon questioned if Shuai was coerced into writing the post.
  • On Thursday, Simon doubled down on an earlier threat to pull WTA’s business with China.

Several tennis stars, including prominent women’s players Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, have shared tweets with the hashtag #whereispengshuai urging that action be taken.

What we’re watching this weekend 📺

Friday

🏀Lakers at Celtics (-2), 7:30 p.m. on ESPN | LeBron James could return for the Lakers.

Saturday

🏈No. 7 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State (-19), Noon on ABC | Two Big Ten teams with playoff aspirations meet in Columbus.
🏀
No. 5 Villanova vs No. 17 Tennessee, 1 p.m. on ESPNews | The Wildcats scored 100 last time out (against Howard.)
🏈No. 21 Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama (-20.5), 3:30 p.m. on CBS | The Crimson Tide hope to keep their spot inside the top four of the CFP rankings
🏀No. 18 North Carolina vs No. 6 Purdue, 4 p.m. on ESPNews | Purdue has scored 96, 92 and 96 points in its first three contests this season.

Sunday

🏈Packers at Vikings (+1.5), 1 p.m. on FOX | A classic NFC North clash with Green Bay and Minnesota battling for playoff positioning.
🏈Colts at Bills (-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+ | This would be a statement win for either team.
🏈Cowboys at Chiefs (-2.5), 4:25 p.m. on FOX | I shouldn’t have to explain why you should be watching this one.

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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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