The Early-Season Heat Check

November 4, 2021

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

In the aftermath of the World Series, we stop to check in on the early-season NBA power rankings. Meanwhile, there’s drama in Green Bay, Cleveland and Las Vegas as more off-the-field NFL storylines unfold. Stay tuned, college hoops fans. It’s the final weekend before NCAA basketball tips off.

Letter Rip!



The Early-Season Heat Check


Miami Heat, Utah Jazz & Golden State Warriors Lead Hot Starts


The early-season get-off in the Association has seen some jockeying as teams at the top are off to hot starts. Others — like the Knicks — have lost a few in a row to drop them from this week’s Sportsletter Power Rankings. Wednesday night saw the 76ers, Raptors, Nets and Grizzlies add to their win streaks while the Heat, Warriors and Jazz are the only one-loss teams left in the league. Here’s a look at our latest “heat check” after the first three weeks of the season.


The Sportsletter’s NBA Power Rankings

1. Heat (6-1) | W5

2. Warriors (6-1) | W2

3. Jazz (6-1) | W2

4. 76ers (6-2) | W4

5. Bulls (6-2) | L1

6. Lakers (5-3) | W3

7. Raptors (6-3) | W5

8. Nets (5-3) | W3

9. Grizzlies (5-3) | W2

10. Mavericks (5-3) | W1


Top Highlights

76ers def. Bulls (103-98)

Raptors def. Wizards (109-100)

Grizzlies def. Nuggets (108-106)


Additional Storylines

SI: Celtics Hold Players-Only Meeting After Tumultuous Start

ESPN: Chris Paul Passes Mark Jackson & Steve Nash for 3rd on All-Time Assists List



Rodgers Hits COVID-19 List


NFL Investigating if Aaron Rodgers Broke Protocols by Lying About Getting Vaccine


Wednesday’s biggest storyline in the NFL was the news that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. Rodgers will miss this Sunday’s marquee showdown against the Chiefs, but the bigger story is an NFL investigation. Rodgers is reportedly unvaccinated and was spotted attending a Halloween party last weekend. He’s also failed to follow health and safety protocols this season while not wearing a mask inside team facilities. The Green Bay signal caller could potentially return for next Sunday (Nov. 14), but he could face further suspension following the NFL’s investigation.


Other NFL Storylines


Odell Beckham Jr.’s Future in Cleveland

Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. missed practice on Wednesday that resulted in questions about the receiver’s future with the team. The news came one day after his father posted a video highlighting QB Baker Mayfield’s inability to throw Beckham the ball. The #FreeOBJ hashtag surfaced throughout social media. It’s unclear if OBJ will be holding out or asking for a release. Read More


Henry Ruggs III Crash Details

Las Vegas court details emerged Wednesday following the car crash involving Raiders WR Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs was reportedly traveling 156 mph in his Corvette before wrecking and killing a woman and her dog. Ruggs was also reportedly more than twice the legal limit (DUI). He was released by the team on Wednesday. Read More


Additional Storylines

SI: Aaron Rodgers, COVID & The Big Picture

CBS Sports: Baker Mayfield Reacts to Video Posted by OBJ’s Father

USA Today: What’s Next for NFL’s Key Trade Deadline Figures?



Champions League Matchday 4


Liverpool & Ajax Stay Perfect to Reach Champions League Round of 16


On Day 2 of Matchday 4, two more clubs punched their tickets to the knockout stage. Liverpool blanked Atletico Madrid (2-0) thanks to first-half goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane. Ajax return appear to have another run of Champions League magic after a 3-1 stunner against Dortmund. When the dust settled on Matchday 4, four total clubs have now reach the knockouts — Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern and Juventus.


Matchday 4 Highlights

Real Madrid def. Shakhtar Donetsk (2-1)

Milan draw Porto (1-1)

Sporting def. Besiktas (4-0)

Ajax def. Dortmund (3-1)

Inter def. Sheriff (3-1)

Liverpool def. Atletico Madrid (2-0)

Man. City def. Club Brugge (4-1)

PSG draw RB Leipzig (2-2)


Matchday 5: November 23 & 24


Additional Storylines

UEFA: Updated Champions League Standings After Matchday 4

CBS Sports: UCL Takeaways: Liverpool, Ajax Into Last 16 as Man. City Leapfrog PSG




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\"⚾️\"  Biggest Takeaways From the 2021 MLB Season

As the 2021 MLB season winds to a close, it\’s time to start thinking about how the past seven months of baseball could impact the future of the sport. Here’s what the 2021 MLB season has taught us about the next phase of baseball. (Bleacher Report)


\"🏀\"  Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

It took one season for LaMelo Ball to prove his out-of-this-world potential, and to change the trajectory of the long-suffering Charlotte Hornets. Now comes the challenge—and the thrill—of building a future around the 20-year-old’s boundless imagination. (The Ringer)


\"🏈\"  CFP Rankings Takeaways

The College Football Playoff selection committee revealed its first of six rankings on Tuesday evening and delivered disappointment to Cincinnati fans hoping to see their Bearcats make history as the first Group of 5 team to crack the top four. (ESPN+)




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