Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NFL: Denver at San Diego, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
On one side, there’s Philip Rivers with a league-best 2,944 yards passing, on pace to shatter Dan Marino’s single-season mark of 5,084. On the other, Kyle Orton, second in the league with 2,806 yards. If you thought Philly-Washington could generate points last week … In a meeting that will either help shake out the weak AFC West or muddle it further, the Chargers (4-5) try to win their third in a row to reach .500, while Denver (3-6) is coming off a 49-29 rout of Kansas City. And if you’re worried about a blackout — and, with the Chargers, you should be — the league said they sold enough tickets to get it on TV. It is just the second time in five home games that Southern California’s only NFL team has sold enough tickets to allow the game to be seen in the region.
NHL: Kings at Ottawa, 4:30 p.m., Prime:
Today’s fun fact about Ottawa: Queen Victoria had designated it as the capital of Canada on December 31, 1857. In the earlier times, Ottawa was known as Bytown, named in honor of Lieutenant-Colonel John By, who contributed a lot to the construction of the Rideau canal. However, after incorporation of Bytown as a city in 1855, the name was changed to Ottawa. They were By before Bi was popular.
NBA: Clippers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers can only have so many “Griffin’s efforts wasted again” newspaper headlines in them per month. And opposing broadcasters (like Mike Breen and Walt Frazier) admiring his abilities (above), like in Saturday’s game at Staples Center against the Knicks. The Hornets, in Sacramento last night and likely to have new backup point guard Jarrett Jack with them, have pummeled the Clippers in their last 14 meetings.
OK, one more Griffin dunk from Saturday for the road:
NBA: Lakers vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
No bull: After the post-game show, FSW airs out “Making of the Laker Girls Calendar” special (and if you miss it, it repeats Wednesday at 7 and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.). They run $14.99 at lakerstore.com, or $10 less than Jeanie Buss’ new book. There are, as a matter of record, 22 Laker Girls, and, uh, 12 months. Don’t worry, they’ve double-teammed a few key seasons. We’re pulling for Brandi, Bria, Brilane, Bailie and Brittney to get us through until the summer.
NHL: Kings at Montreal, 4:30 p.m., FSW:
The four-game, week-long road trip comes to an end, but the debate whether Rogie Vachon belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame shouldn’t. Vachon, who played his first five seasons with the Canadiens, was traded to the Kings early in the ’71-’72 season and lasted six more en route to a 16-season career, ranks ahead of a lot of current Hall of Fame goalies in career stats — plus, he has three Stanley Cups, a Vezina Trophy and three All-Star games. “He wasn’t a big guy, yet he played so well and really, the shame is that he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame when the numbers he has are better than some who are in the Hall of Fame, and he has those seasons and those numbers with very mediocre Kings teams,” Kings Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller once said. The fact remains, Vachon’s 355 career wins are more than Hall of Famers’ Ken Dryden, Gerry Cheevers, Ed Giacomin and Gump Worsley. At least the Kings plan to honor Vachon before their game at home on Jan. 15.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Villanova, Madison Square Garden, New York, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
Lisa Honeycutt told the Daily Bruin newspaper that she booked tickets to New York a month ago, anticipating that her son, Tyler, would be with his teammates playing at Madison Square Garden on the night before Thanksgiving. Besides, she’s never been to New York City. Neither has Tyler. “I’ve always wanted to go to New York,” the sophomore forward said after a win last week against Pacific clinched the trip and a 3-0 start for UCLA. “I’ve been to Buffalo, N.Y., which I don’t think is the same thing.” No, not really.
College basketball: USC vs. Cal State Fullerton, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., USCTrojans.com:
The Trojans (3-2) head home after a tour of Springfield, Mass., for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, where they lost one by one and won another by 19, in time for a tune-up tilt with the Titans.
NBA: Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
Gobble, gobble, gulp: What Staples Center usher wants to leave his Thanksgiving dinner early so he can scan tickets for people who choose to come to this game on a national holiday?
NFL: New England at Detroit, 9:30 a.m., Channel 2:
Sorry, Maurice Jones-Drew, but we’ve become fond of Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has earned the nickname “Law Firm” because of something he had no control over: The most multi-modified name in pro sports. We hope someday when he has kids, he’ll be more considerate.
NFL: New Orleans at Dallas, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Jason Garrett’s 2-0 Cowboys now have to back-to-back games against last season’s Super Bowl opponents – the Saints and Colts.
NFL: Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets, 5 p.m., NFL Network:
The Jets hammered the Bengals, 37-0, in the last game of the ’09 season to set up a meeting in the AFC wild-card match — and then Mark Sanchez beat his friend, Carson Palmer, a second time, 24-7. On Saturday, the NFL Network will replay this game — but without the commentary by Ian Eagle, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann. NFL Films will have mikes on 15 players and coaches to provide the audio.
College football: UCLA at Arizona State, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
The Bruins have averaged less than two touchdowns a game over their last five (one win, four losses). The Sun Devils have lost three of their last four, but stayed very close to USC and Stanford in the last two defeats. On Senior Day in Tempe, Ariz., ASU plans a big halftime ceremony to reinstitute their Ring Of Honor, and pay homage to former coach Frank Kush and eight former players, including the late Pat Tillman.
NBA: Lakers at Utah, 6 p.m., Channel 9:
Jazz fans apparently a) still upset that Karl Malone once sided up with the Lakers and b) the franchise traded the eventual rights to Magic Johnson to the Lakers continue to take out their frustrations on Derek Fisher. C’mon, get over it.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Tennessee or Virginia Commonwealth, NIT final or third place game, 2:30 p.m. or 5 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2:
News that the SEC suspended Vols coach Bruce Pearl for the first eight conference games this season due to NCAA rules violations won’t affect this one.
NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 6 p.m., Prime:
Their next meeting will be the day after Christmas. More leftovers.
NHL: Ducks vs. Chicago, Honda Center, 1 p.m., FSW:
When they last met in Chicago on Nov. 14, the Ducks had their attempt at a record-tying seventh straight win squashed by a 3-2 Blackhawks win in OT.
College football: Auburn at Alabama, 11:30 a.m., Channel 2:
There could be a domino effect happen here, a game that’s followed up by Oregon hosting Arizona (ESPN, 4 p.m.) and Boise State goes to Nevada (ESPN, 7:15 p.m.).
College football: USC vs. Notre Dame, Coliseum, 5 p.m., ABC/ESPN:
Twenty-five years ago, Notre Dame led 24-0 at halftime when Irish coach Gerry Faust had his team switch to green jerseys. They won, 37-3. It was Faust’s last win against the Trojans — he quit after that season. This year, Brian Kelley, who went green in last week’s win against Army at Yankee Stadium, might consider having his squad enter the Coliseum dressed in plaid if he’s got any shot at winning that crazy looking shillelagh trophy. Notre Dame leads the series, 42-33-5, but USC has won the last eight meetings (except for that one five years ago that they’ve now had to vacate). The Trojans may still be blue after last weekend’s disappointment in Corvallis, Ore.
NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Back on Oct. 27, the Kings were frustrated in a 3-1 loss at Chitown, unable to smack anything much past Marty Turco. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 34-28, including 15-8 in the third period.
NHL: Ducks at Phoenix, 5 p.m., Prime:
Do the Ducks look ahead to Monday’s matchup against the Kings?
College basketball: USC at Nebraska, 2 p.m., FSW:
A matchup made for the gridiron.
College football: Oregon State at Stanford, 4:30 p.m., Versus:
If only the Cardinal could get another shot at Oregon’s Ducks instead.
United Football League: Championships game, 9 a.m., Versus:
If we even knew the names of the five teams in this league right now, we’d included the top two contenders here.
Canadian Football League: Grey Cup, 3:30 p.m.:
In Edmonton, it’s Montreal’s Alouettes against Saskatchewan’s Roughriders. Montreal a chance for a second straight Grey Cup and this is a rematch of a dramatic 2009 game. No team has won back-to-back Grey Cup titles since the Argonauts did it in 1996 and 1997.
NFL: San Diego at Indianapolis, 5:15 p.m., Channel 4:
The trend continues: Whomever plays in Monday night prime-time seems to have a game the following week in prime-time on Sunday. NBC decided to keep this one; it could have tossed it aside in its first week of flex scheduling.
NFL: Philadelphia at Chicago, 1 p.m., Channel 11:
Fox moved this one from an early window to a later one — to try to get more eyes on Michael Vick. The last time the Bears’ defense faced Vick, he was with the Falcons, and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was assigned to shadow him. It worked.
NBA: Clippers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW
We did mention that the new Laker Girls calendar was on sale at the Team LA store? On Ashley, on Angel, on Leah and Lana; go Taylour, go Katie, go Octavia and Dara. Why isn’t there a Clippers Spirit Girls calendar to compete with this one? Over at Clippergirl.com (linked here), you can get a free Betty Crocker 2011 calendar. Betty cooks.