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A showdown between two of the NFL’s best teams, a Grey Cup rematch and, yes, another Taylor Swift appearance: it’s going to be a fascinating weekend of football in the United States and Canada.
Here’s what to watch on each side of the border:
U.S.: Dolphins vs. Bills, Coach Prime, and Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift
When it comes to American cultural forces, there could hardly be a more powerful union than the NFL and Taylor Swift. The unofficial partnership between America’s most popular entertainer and its favourite professional sport took flight last weekend in Kansas City, where Swift accepted star tight end Travis Kelce’s invitation to take in his game against the Chicago Bears from a luxury suite.
Swift was pretty much the ideal date, showing up in a fashionable Kansas City windbreaker, sitting next to Kelce’s mom, responsibly sipping a vodka cranberry and even helping tidy up the place on her way out. Her enthusiastic reactions to big K.C. plays, including a Kelce touchdown catch that made the score 41-0, of course went viral.
Swift and Kelce were then seen leaving the stadium together to join a team afterparty. Patrick Mahomes approved of his favourite target’s date, calling Swift “really cool” and “good people.” Even Bill Belichick was smitten with the pairing. The often-grumpy Patriots coach delivered this publicist-worthy line during an interview on Boston sports radio: “Travis Kelce’s had a lot of big catches in his career. This would be the biggest.”
For the most part, everyone — from Swifties to football fans — is eating up the Taylor-Travis pairing. But it has been suggested that the relationship between the two 33-year-olds feels a bit contrived as they both have something to sell at the moment. Swift’s new Eras Tour concert film is premiering in theatres soon, while the media-savvy Kelce co-hosts a podcast with his brother Jason (an Eagles offensive lineman) and is clearly eyeing some kind of on-camera stardom when his playing career ends. By dating each other, Swift and Kelce can reach potential fans that would ordinarily be outside their target demographic. The NFL benefits too as, even for a league this popular, the Taylor Swift Effect is real.
A cynic might also point out the almost-too-perfect timing and location of Kelce’s next game. It’s on NBC’s Sunday Night Football — the most-watched program on all of American TV — in the home stadium of the New York Jets — representing the largest media market in the country. And, yes, Swift is expected to be there.
For those more interested in actual football, the marquee game of the week is Miami at Buffalo on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The Dolphins are the (non-Taylor Swift) talk of the league after dropping 70 points on Denver last week, with red-hot quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing four touchdown passes while running backs Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane scored four TDs each. Miami also features two of football’s most exciting receivers in speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and one of the sport’s most clever coaches in nerdy Mike McDaniel.
But longtime rival Buffalo’s fierce defence forced five takeaways and piled up nine sacks to spearhead last week’s 37-3 pounding of Washington, and the Bills have a dynamite QB-receiver connection of their own in Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. This could be one of the best Dolphins-Bills games since Dan Marino and Jim Kelly were in uniform.
In U.S. college football, Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes will try to bounce back from last week’s humbling 42-6 defeat to Oregon when they host USC on Saturday at noon ET. The eighth-ranked Trojans are led by quarterback Caleb Williams, who’s expected to go No. 1 overall in next year’s NFL draft.
Canada: Grey Cup rematch and a big university rivalry
After circling each other for the first 16 weeks of the CFL season, the defending champion Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will finally square up for their Grey Cup rematch tonight at 8 p.m. ET in Winnipeg.
The Argos have only gotten better since upsetting the Bombers 24-23 in last year’s championship game to deny them a three-peat. Toronto has won six straight and leads the league with a 12-1 record as second-year quarterback Chad Kelly (Jim’s nephew) has helped the offence to the top of the league in points per game.
Winnipeg has the No. 2 scoring offence and the top defence (the Argos are second there) and leads the West at 10-4. But the Bombers are just 2-2 in their last four and are now being challenged in their division by B.C., which improved to 10-4 last week. Still, tonight’s matchup could be a preview of another Winnipeg-Toronto clash for the Grey Cup this November.
In Canadian university football, the top two teams in the Atlantic conference meet tonight as St. FX (4-0) visits Bishop’s (3-1) while, in the West, UBC (4-0) faces Saskatchewan (3-1). On Saturday, Western visits Windsor for a battle of 5-0 Ontario teams while, in Quebec, reigning Vanier Cup champion Laval (3-1) plays McGill (1-3) and Montreal (4-0) meets winless Sherbrooke.
On Sunday, the 54th edition of the annual Panda Game between cross-town rivals Ottawa and Carleton is expected to draw more than 24,000 fans to TD Place Stadium in the nation’s capital. Read more about the game here and watch it live at noon ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
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