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Football season is in full swing

It’s the first full week of fall. That means pro football is hitting its stride on both sides of the border. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting stuff that happened over the weekend and what’s next in the NFL and CFL:

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NFL

Kansas City is off to a rough start. The pre-season Super Bowl favourites lost their second straight game (30-24 to the Chargers) to fall to 1-2 — and last place in their division. “Is it time for Kansas City to panic?” is a ready-made sports radio/podcast topic, but K.C. lost the turnover battle 4-0 and still led the game with a little over two minutes to go. Patrick Mahomes and the offence should be fine. The defence (league-worst 31.7 points allowed per game) is the bigger concern, plus the health of genius head coach Andy Reid. He was taken to a hospital following yesterday’s loss after he “felt ill,” according to the team, though Reid was expected to be back at work today or tomorrow.

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers lost for the first time in 10 months. It’s easy to forget now, but Tampa Bay came out of its Week 13 bye last year with an unimpressive 7-5 record as Brady and his new teammates struggled to find a groove. Then they rattled off eight straight wins — including a 31-9 upset of Kansas City in the Super Bowl. But after running their winning streak to 10 with back-to-back wins to open this season, the Bucs got taken down 34-24 yesterday by a Rams team that looks like it might be the team to beat in the NFC now.

Baltimore’s Justin Tucker kicked the longest field goal in NFL history. The stakes were big too: as Tucker lined up for his 66-yard try as time expired in Detroit, the Ravens trailed by one. The NFL’s best kicker delivered, drilling the ball off the crossbar and through, allowing the Ravens to avoid a big upset and improve to 2-1. Strangely enough, in the Arizona-Jacksonville game happening at the same time, Cardinals kicker Matt Prater tried a 68-yarder — only to have it fall short and returned 109 yards for a TD.

Looking ahead: The most interesting matchups for Week 4 are the Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET game between the Cardinals and Rams (a pair of 3-0 division rivals with explosive offences) and the Sunday nighter between the Bucs and Patriots — Brady’s first game in New England as a visitor.

CFL

We’re halfway there. Following Friday night’s doubleheader — Toronto edged Montreal 30-27 to keep pace with Hamilton atop the East Division, while Saskatchewan beat B.C. 31-24 to get a leg up on the Lions for second place in the West — most teams have seven games in the books. So this year’s shortened 14-game schedule has reached its midpoint. Just a reminder that the late start to the season also pushed the playoffs back. They’ll start on the last Sunday of November (normally when the Grey Cup is held), and culminate with the title game on Dec. 12 in Hamilton.

The Blue Bombers are still the team to beat. The cancellation of the entire 2020 CFL season gave Winnipeg an extended championship reign, and the Bombers look poised to add another year. They have the best record in the league (6-1), the second-most points scored, and they’ve allowed just 98 points — three touchdowns fewer than anyone else in the league. Winnipeg waited 29 years between Grey Cups. Now it might go back to back.

There’s a tasty matchup on tap. The marquee game of Week 9 pits that fierce Winnipeg defence against the B.C. offence, which leads the league in total points scored. It’ll be a good test for Lions QB Mike Reilly, who tops the CFL in passing yards and has thrown 10 touchdowns with just one interception, but hasn’t faced the Bombers yet this year. The Lions host the game Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

The song remains the same: Grey Cup (and Banjo Bowl) champion Winnipeg is still the best team in the CFL. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Quickly…

One of Canada’s most unique athletes is launching a different kind of sports agency. Georgia Simmerling competed in four Olympics (two Winter, two Summer) in three different sports (alpine skiing, ski cross, track cycling). She won a bronze medal in cycling in 2016. After announcing her retirement last week, the 32-year-old revealed today that she’s starting an agency focused on representing female athletes. “The world is watching women’s sports,” Simmerling said. “Brands and organizations and corporations need a little nudge to show them that this is the time to invest in women’s sports and I’m thrilled to take that on.” Read more about her new venture here.

The Raptors are finally back in Toronto. After spending the last season and a half in the United States due to the pandemic, the Raptors opened training camp today at their arena in downtown Toronto, where they’ll be allowed to play this season. The team was granted a national interest exemption that allows visiting players into Toronto — even if they’re unvaccinated (those players must pass a COVID-19 test and are subject to other restrictions). Raptors GM Bobby Webster said the Raptors are one dose away from being fully vaccinated, and will be in time for their season opener in Toronto on Oct. 20 vs. Washington. Read more about the Raptors’ first day of camp here.

And in case you missed it…

A few more things from the weekend that you should know about:

The field for Canada’s Olympic curling trials is taking shape. A pair of qualifying bonspiels in Ottawa wrapped up yesterday, with five teams earning spots in the trials in Saskatoon in late November. On the women’s side, the rinks skipped by Kelsey Rocque, Laura Walker and Casey Scheidegger won the right to join the already-qualified Kerri Einarson, Tracy Fleury, Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones, plus two more teams to be determined at the pre-trials tournament in late October in Liverpool, N.S. On the men’s side, Mike McEwen and Matt Dunstone earned tickets to the trials, where they’ll face Brendan Bottcher, John Epping, Brad Gushue, Brad Jacobs, Kevin Koe and the two teams that emerge from the pre-trials. Read more about the Olympic trials picture in this story by CBC Sports curling reporter Devin Heroux.

The United States routed Europe to take back the Ryder Cup. If you looked at the rosters heading into the biennial golf showdown, it was clear that the Americans had the vastly better team. World No. 1 Jon Rahm plays for Europe, but the next 10 highest-ranked players in the Ryder Cup were all on the U.S. side. Plus, Europe was counting on 48-year-old Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter (45), Paul Casey (44) and Sergio Garcia (41) to contribute. The only reasons to believe in the Euros were that they always seem to come up big in this event and their experience might give them an edge against the youngest American team ever. Turns out, those intangibles didn’t matter. The U.S. took back the Cup with a 19-9 blowout — Europe’s worst loss since the old Great Britain and Ireland team expanded to the continent in 1979. This was just the third win in 10 Ryder Cups this century for the Americans, but their future looks bright. Read more about their convincing victory here.

You’re up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.

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