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It’s A Toss-Up Between The Braves And Astros

First, we take a look at the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves, which appears evenly matched according to our model. Whatever happens, there will be takes about how Houston’s appearance cleanses (or doesn’t) its recent record of cheating, but there is a lot to be learned from the Astros’ success other than “actions don’t necessarily have consequences.” Their team building, use of the international talent pool and ability to make the Astros more than the sum of their parts are all to their credit. And hey, we can’t be mad if Dusty Baker finally wins a World Series.

Next, we take a look at the chaos in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs may not be out of the playoff picture entirely, but they’ve sunk low enough that not even Patrick Mahomes on his best day could save them by himself — and he certainly did not have his best day in Week 7. Their offense should be able to adjust to how defenses are now playing them, but the Chief’s defense is just bad — and there’s probably nothing Steve Spagnuolo can do about it at this point. On the other end of the spectrum, the Arizona Cardinals have completely turned their defense around, and if that can hold, there’s no reason to believe they won’t be a serious Super Bowl contender. We have a lot of bad teams this year in the NFL and a lot of teams that make no sense, but at least the Cardinals, Bucs, Packers and Rams seem to be holding it together enough to actually be serious.

A photo illustration of Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves players

Related: Astros Or Braves? Flip A Coin For This World Series. Read more. »

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil compares the NBA’s list of the top players released in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary with who would be on RAPTOR’s version of that list, at least as far back as RAPTOR tracks. There are some surprising inclusions of players who were perhaps more efficient than impactful, but it’s an interesting contrast that gives Manu Ginóbili and Vince Carter their day in the (highly theoretical) sun. 

What we’re looking at this week: 

Recognizing the records and legacy of Negro League baseball

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.