It only took his performance on opening night to convince me that Ben Simmons was going to be the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year, and he's only strengthened his position tenfold since.

Others, who unlike me actually have a vote, probably have open minds considering 85 percent of the season remains.

If, however, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball wants to regain footing in the race, he'll have to make a statement against Simmons and the Sixers at 10:30 (ESPN, 97.5 The Fanatic).

Statistically, Simmons leads rookies in minutes (34.3 mpg), scoring (17.8 ppg), rebounds (9.2 rpg) and assists (7.5 apg) – which is supposed to be Ball's specialty.

Simmons is shooting 49.7 percent, which is his weakness, while Ball is shooting 31.3 percent.

Simmons tops rookies with eight double-doubles compared to two from Ball. Simmons also has two triple-doubles while Ball has one.

Still, thanks primarily to the unexplainable popularity of his big-mouth father and the aura that comes with playing for the Lakers, Ball still has the benefit of the hype.

If Ball can have a big game head-to-head against Simmons on national television and lead the Lakers to a victory, he could at least put his name back into the discussion –  but not mine.

NBC Sports Philadelphia will televise the Eagles’ 2004 NFC championship game win tonight.
KRT
NBC Sports Philadelphia will televise the Eagles’ 2004 NFC championship game win tonight.

Taped Eagles games tops live volleyball

So what are we looking at here?

The Sixers game is being televised nationally, so that cuts into local programming.

Typically, in these situations, NBCSP ends up broadcasting some poker tournament or a loop of its local shows like Philly Sports Talk or Quick Slants.

Given the current status of the Eagles as the best team in the NFL, however, the network actually has a couple of taped hour-long programs that provide strong local lead-ins before the Sixers play.

At 8, Eagles Classics: 2004 NFC Championship is a reminder of how much fun Philadelphia had as Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb and company finally got the bear off of their back and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX.

With the game temperature of 17 degrees, the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Then at 9, it's Eagles Classics: The Body Bag Game – the 1990 Monday Night Football classic when the Birds sent nine players from Washington to the sideline with injuries.

Of course, there's always women's volleyball from the SEC at 6 on ESPNU. I admit I'll watch Maryland against Butler at 8:30 on FS1.

Jay Ajayi scored on a 46-yard touchdown run in his Eagles debut against the Denver Broncos.
Yong Kim/Staff Photographer
Jay Ajayi scored on a 46-yard touchdown run in his Eagles debut against the Denver Broncos.

What I’m reading

A 46-yard touchdown run by Jay Ajayi in his Eagles debut has opened all possibilities. Staff writer Zach Berman says the Birds are ready to open their whole playbook to the new running back.

New Phillies skipper Gabe Kaplan doesn't have much managerial experience on his resume. Staff writer Matt Gelb looks at his one summer leading the Greenville (S.C.) Drive in 2007.

The Eagles are back from their bye on Sunday and staff writer Paul Domowitch gives his scouting report for the big game in Dallas.

The Flyers were shutout for the second consecutive game and staff writer Sam Donnellon gives his observations from the latest sorry effort.

Sorry, Sixers fans but Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has a different opinion on which team is poised to dominate the Eastern Conference for the next several years. 

The riff

After blaming the NFL's failure to stop players from protesting for its decline in sales earlier this month, Papa John's backtracked from that claim on Tuesday.

The official pizza of the NFL had been criticized for encouraging the league to stop the players' right to peacefully protest and bring attention to police brutality and social injustice.

Some called for a boycott of the pizza.

A neo-Nazi website then claimed Papa John's as the official pizza of the alt-right.

On its official twitter account, the company said it had not meant to be divisive and that it believed "in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change."

It said it apologized to anyone who thought its initial response was divisive.

I don't know if Papa John's founder John Schnatter had a sudden epiphany the black lives matter but he knows they buy pizza.

Today’s schedule

TV/radio

NBA

Cavaliers at Hornets, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
76ers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, WPEN-FM 97.5)

NHL

Rangers at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

College Football

Eastern Michigan at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Western Michigan at Northern Illinois, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Toledo at Bowling Green, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)

Golf

European PGA: DP Championship, 3 a.m. Thursday (Golf channel)

Men's college basketball

Indiana at Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
BYU at Princeton, 7 p.m. (NBCSP+)
Navy at Penn, 7 p.m. (WXPN-FM 88.5)
Montana at Penn State, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network, WNTP-AM 990)
Butler at Maryland, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)

Soccer

Peru vs. New Zealand World Cup qualifying playoff, 9 p.m. (beIN Sports, Universo)

Local events

Men's college basketball

Navy at Penn, 7 p.m., The Palestra

Horse racing

Harrah's racetrack in Chester, slate of harness races beginning at 12:40 p.m.