Happy Monday, my friend! We've got a short week ahead of us with the holiday coming up so we're going to have to make the most of our time together this week. I'm ready if you are.
And speaking of the holiday, I decided to put up my Christmas tree yesterday and I don't want to hear a single complaint that it's too early. (Yes, the tree is fake.) I typically subscribe to the idea that Christmas season begins as soon as Thanksgiving dinner ends but I felt compelled to get into the Christmas spirit a little earlier this year ... aka 2020 has made me sad and I'm trying to force joy into my life any way possible. Plus, time is completely meaningless this year so we may as well throw away any and all holiday rulebooks. Put up those lights and trees if you want.
Anyway, I hope you had a good weekend yourself, even if it wasn't full of early Christmas cheer. We've got plenty of stuff to get to from the weekend that was so pour some peppermint mocha into that coffee and let's get to it.
📰 What you need to know
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs rally late to beat Raiders 🏈
Getting to watch Mahomes go to work in primetime is always a pretty good time and last night was no different. We got the Chiefs and Raiders in our Sunday Night Football showdown this weekend and it's hard to say it didn't live up to the hype.
The Raiders are the only team to beat the Chiefs this season (they handed KC a 40-32 loss in Week 5) and Las Vegas gave them a damn good game once again last night. Ultimately, though, Mahomes and the Chiefs got the final strike in another explosive battle, winning 35-31 in pretty dramatic fashion. Let's get some takeaways that explain how Kansas City was able to avenge their loss from earlier in the season.
- Why the Chiefs won: Mahomes made a few mistakes on Sunday night, but he once again proved he's capable of rising to the occasion during the game's biggest moments. After the Raiders took the lead late in the fourth quarter, Mahomes and his top weapons put together a surgical and awe-inspiring game-winning touchdown drive that took all of 75 seconds
- Why the Raiders lost: Vegas played really well but they weren't perfect, and their imperfections cost them -- especially toward the end of the game. They broke down defensively on the Chiefs' final drive and let Mahomes & Co. dice them apart. They had trouble covering Travis Kelce all night and nobody was even in the tight end's zip code when he hauled in the game-winning TD
This was really one of those games where both teams can go home feeling pretty good about the way they played. That's especially true for Derek Carr, who had an outstanding night throwing the ball for the Raiders. Unfortunately, his team couldn't quite go punch-for-punch with the Chiefs but, if it makes him feel any better, not many teams can. Considering the fact that Las Vegas had a bunch of COVID-19 complications that disrupted their preparations this week, they played better than I expected.
But, uh, here's a pretty wild stat for you: Last night marked the first time in his career that Mahomes has thrown a go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes of a game. I have no idea how that can possibly be true, but apparently it is? Insane.
2. Bengals fear Joe Burrow is done for season after leg injury 🏈
- Burrow suffered an apparent knee injury when a defender fell on his left leg during the third quarter of Sunday's game in Washington
- The rookie QB was carted off the field and the Bengals reportedly fear he's torn his ACL and MCL but won't know officially until they get results from an MRI
- Burrow appears to believe his season is over, tweeting out "Can't get rid of me that easy. See ya next year" about an hour after his injury
We can try to stay positive and hope it's not as bad as it looks, but the writing sort of seems to be on the wall at this point, and pretty much everyone was shook by the injury. It's just such a bummer for Burrow and for the NFL. There hasn't been a whole lot to slow down the hype since he was taken with the top overall pick in this year's draft.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, they checked off an important rebuilding task -- draft a star quarterback -- but forgot to follow up with an equally important task: Protect the star quarterback. Injuries can happen to anyone at anytime -- that's just the nature of the brutal sport -- but Burrow has gotten crushed behind a weak line all year long. He deserved better than this.
Now, it seems he'll have a long road to recovery and it may be a while before we see him dropping back again. That just sucks for everyone.
3. NFL Week 11 grades 🏈
We've hit a few of the bigger NFL stories but there are plenty more notables to discuss and, with it being Monday, it's time for us to celebrate our weekly tradition by going over some grades. If you tuned into yesterday's slate of action, there's a pretty good chance you know who's going to end up with the worst mark of the day: The Lions.
Our John Breech penned a great line to describe Matt Patricia's job security after his club delivered one of the most embarrassing performances of any team this entire season: "If you're wondering what the temperature is of Patricia's hot seat in Detroit, just open up your oven before you cook your turkey on Thanksgiving and you'll have a good idea."
- Lions (F) shut out in awful loss to Panthers (B+): Patricia, whose calling card is his defensive acumen, saw his D give up big play after big play to a former XFL quarterback. On the other side, Carolina's defense gave Matt Stafford terrors all day, sacking him five times. The Panthers held the Lions to 185 total yards -- the first time since 2017 that they've given up less than 200 yards
- Taysom Hill, Saints (A-) crush Falcons (D): Many people questioned Sean Payton's decision to roll with Hill as starting quarterback instead of Jameis Winston but there's no arguing that the move worked out (and now Payton gets the last laugh.) Hill threw for 233 yards and rushed for another 51 with a TD. Matt Ryan barely had time to think as he was sacked eight times
- Tua Tagovailoa benched in Dolphins' (C-) loss to Broncos (C+): Miami's defense had a tough day and their offense couldn't get anything going either. Tua was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that didn't really solve anything. They'll go back to the rookie next week, but their five-game win streak is now gone
You can find the rest of the weekend's grades right here.
4. Is Auburn's self-imposed ban acceptable? 🏀
We got some news out of the college basketball world yesterday when Auburn announced that it has enacted a self-imposed, one-year postseason ban on its men's basketball program. The ban comes in response to an NCAA probe that has generated a notice of allegations against the program. (That case has yet to be resolved by the NCAA.)
So, why exactly would Auburn punish itself before the NCAA has finalized the case against the school? And why would they do it three days before the start of the 2020-21 season? According to our Gary Parrish, it's a savvy move by the school to:
- Get credit for being proactive
- Take advantage of a pandemic-shortened season in which the Tigers probably won't qualify for the NCAA tournament anyway
The presumption is that, when the NCAA does finalize the case and punish Auburn, the school will get credit for time served. While Parrish acknowledges it's a smart move, he doesn't necessarily think it's the right one.
- Parrish: "I've long believed that strategically-timed self-imposed postseason bans should not be considered acceptable punishment by the NCAA because they are almost always examples of schools gaming the system with little regard for the student-athletes enrolled. Schools sacrifice their mediocre present with the idea being that it'll give them a better chance to maximize a more-promising future."
There's an interesting discussion to be had here -- should schools even be allowed to punish themselves at all? -- and Parrish makes some good points in his column. He's certainly smarter and more well-informed than I, so feel free to give that a read.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Dabo Swinney was absolutely not pleased that Florida State decided to postpone Saturday's game against Clemson amid COVID-19 concerns
- Jayson Tatum and the Celtics agreed to a five-year, $195 million rookie max extension over the weekend
- Mike Vrabel and John Harbaugh may or may not have angrily blown off their postgame handshake yesterday. You can watch and decide for yourself
- JuJu Smith-Schuster hurt his toe after stepping on a penalty flag during the Steelers' win yesterday
📺 What to watch tonight
🏈 Rams vs. Buccaneers, 8:15p.m. | TB -4 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
Travis Kelce caught a go-ahead touchdown with 28 seconds left to play in the fourth quarter.
💵 Winning wagers: LV +7.5, Over (56.5)