Sports and poker. Poker and sports. While the “Is poker a sport?” debate is an endless endeavor with no true answer in sight, Poker Central is blending the two together. At the start of each week, the “Monday Merge” fuses poker and sports, drawing loose comparisons, and even looser transitions, between the only two things we really care about.

Usually when we open the Monday Merge with golf, we are talking about Justin Thomas, but this week, we’re not talking PGA, we’re talking LPGA. The McKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open was this past weekend and Canadian Brooke Henderson cruised to victory for her second win of 2017. Maybe even more impressive than the 5-stroke win, the Game of Thrones-esque cloak that Henderson will be taking home just in time for winter.

While Henderson was putting on a (fashion) show in New Zealand, Deshaun Watson was putting on a show in Houston. The rookie quarterback nearly led the Texans to an upset of the defending Super Bowl champions last weekend and then followed that up with an all-time performance in an important, albeit early, divisional tie against the Tennessee Titans. Watson accounted for five touchdowns, four passing and one rushing, while leading the Texans to a whopping 57-14 victory.

Despite a 2-1 record heading into this weekend, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have not looked great to start the 2017 season. Their offense couldn’t seem to get out of their own way through the first three weeks of the season, but that all changed Sunday. Newton put together his own tremendous one-man performance to beat the New England Patriots, passing for three touchdowns and rushing for one. Keeping with this week’s fashion theme, here is Newton in his post-game press conference and here are highlights of the game if that is what you’re here for.

At the start of the 2017 season, I never thought I’d end up typing “The New York Giants are the worst New York team in the National Football League.” but four weeks into the season, here we are. The Buffalo Bills beat the reigning NFC champions this week and the New York Jets, who many thought were going to be the worst team in the NFL by far, are winners of two straight thanks to a Herculean effort from Bilal Powell on Sunday. The Jets running back rushed for over 150 yards, including this 75-yard TD run, which was helped but a somewhat lackadaisical Jags defense that thought Powell was down by contact. Always play to the whistle. 

Speaking of Herculean efforts, Todd Gurley is my current front-runner for NFL Most Valuable Player. The third-year running back, along with sophomore quarterback Jared Goff and rookie coach Sean McVay, have completely reinvigorated the Los Angeles Rams and have them atop the NFC West with a 3-1 record. Gurley can do it on the ground and through the air, which makes him one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players. Add in a strong defense and some mismatched uniforms, see how we snuck that fashion theme in there, and the Rams are looking like a serious playoff contender.