Guys, it's the Christmas Eve newsletter, so obviously, it only makes sense to start things off today with a poem.
"'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the town,
NFL fans were dreaming of the playoffs, even fans of the Browns
Not all fans were happy, especially those of the Jets,
Who lost their shot at Trevor, which made everyone upset
The Chiefs have the one roster that doesn't seem to have a hole,
Which is probably why they're the favorites to win the Super Bowl
In Pittsburgh, Steelers fans don't know what to do,
Because their QB just admitted the team is playing like poo
Could the Titans win it all? Only time will tell
But they look like one of the best teams thanks to Tannehill
As for the Bills, they've finally shed the "can't win the division" label
And their fans celebrated by smashing themselves through a folding table
On the NFC's side, there aren't really any playoff races,
which means we're going to see a lot of familiar faces.
Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and the Seahawks from Seattle,
but probably not the Cowboys, because they choked in every big battle.
Tom Brady will be around trying to win Super Bowl number seven
If the Browns could just win one, their fans would be in heaven
Now let's get to the newsletter, so you can finish this email and leave,
Have a great day and a fun Christmas Eve."
Just so you guys know, that will be the first and last poem I ever write. Also, since I apparently get Christmas Day off, this will be your last newsletter of the week, so I hope you enjoy. I'll be back Monday to recap all the craziness of the weekend.
With that in mind, let's get to the rundown (Christmas Eve edition). As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. A subscription is free and it makes a wonderful Christmas present.
1. Today's Show: NFL Week 16 picks and best bets
I don't think Will Brinson has seen his family in four months, so they're probably going to be surprised when he spends the entire day with them tomorrow for Christmas. The reason he'll be able to do that is because he went podcast crazy on Thursday, recording multiple podcasts, including a Vikings-Saints preview. However, since not everyone is a fan of the Vikings and Saints, we're going to focus on another podcast he recorded: The one where he's joined by Pete Prisco, R.J. White and Kenny White to discuss Week 16 picks.
If you get Christmas money from Grandma, here are a few picks you might want to think about betting on with your newfound fortune.
Steelers (+1.5) to cover against the Colts
Browns (-9.5) to cover against the Jets
Titans at Packers OVER 55.5
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 16 -- and there are quite a few -- be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast. If you need some daily fantasy help for the weekend, we also have a podcast covering that angle of Week 16 in the feed, so there's plenty to listen to if you get tired of your family and you need to get away for an hour or two.
2. Getting you ready for Vikings-Saints game on Christmas Day
The last time the Vikings played on Christmas Day, my brother accidentally burnt down half our house, so I'm hoping that doesn't happen again this year (If you want more details on that weird story, feel free to click here).
This game is combining the two rarest things in the NFL: A Christmas game with a Friday game. It's like combining Cheetos and ice cream, it seems like it shouldn't make sense, but it does.
Let's take a look at a few keys for each team in a game where the Saints are favored by seven points:
- Vikings: If the Vikings are going to win, they're going to need a huge performance from both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook. Cousins has actually been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL over the past six weeks as he's averaged 285 yards passing while throwing 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. As for Cook, the Saints rush defense has surrendered an average of 212.5 yards per game over the past two weeks and if he can take advantage that, Minnesota might be able to pull off the upset.
- Saints: With Michael Thomas out and Drew Brees looking rusty, the Saints are going to need a huge game from Alvin Kamara if they want to stave off a Vikings team that will be facing elimination from the playoff race if they lose on Friday. Defensively, the Saints need to figure out how to stop the run, which is something they haven't done a good job of over the past two weeks.
Breech's prediction: Vikings 30-20 over Saints.
For a more in-depth preview on this game from Cody Benjamin, be sure to click here. If you're wondering about the history of Christmas games in the NFL, our Jeff Kerr did some research on that and you can check out what he found by clicking here.
If you're thinking about betting on the game, Tyler Sullivan put together a full gambling preview.
- ONE PROP TYLER LIKES: Dalvin Cook over 82.5 rushing yards (-115): If this game had been played four weeks ago, taking this prop might not have made sense and that's because no one could run on the Saints, but that seems to have changed. Over the past four weeks, the Saints are giving up an average of 148.8 yards per game on the ground, which is much worse than what they did to start the season when they gave up an average of just 74.3 through their first 10 games.
- ONE PROP I LIKE: Dan Bailey over 5.5 total kicking points (-115): The fact that Bailey was bad in Weeks 13 and 14 -- he missed a total of seven kicks -- is working out in your favor here. This is an incredibly low over/under for a kicker and I'm guessing it was set this low because Vikings coach Mike Zimmer seems to have lost some faith in Bailey. That being said, Bailey did bounce back in Week 15 with a perfect game that saw him score nine points. If he hits two field goals on Friday, this prop covers and I think he'll hit two field goals on Friday.
You can check out Sullivan's full gambling preview by clicking here.
3. So you're saying there's a chance? Vikings have one route to the playoffs; Six teams could be eliminated this week
I'm not sure if you've looked at the NFL standings this week, but if you have, you may have noticed that the Vikings are in trouble. With two weeks to play, they're two games out of the final playoff spot in the NFC. According to our stats guy Stephen Oh, the Vikings have a 1.3% chance of making the playoffs, and that's my cue to bring up Lloyd Christmas and his most famous saying ever, "SO YOU'RE TELLING ME THERE'S A CHANCE." Guys, it's Christmas time, so obviously I had to figure out how to work a guy named Lloyd Christmas into the newsletter today.
As the Vikings head into their Christmas game against the Saints, they have one route to the playoffs and one route alone. Here's what would have to happen for them to make it.
Vikings beat Lions
Rams beat Cardinals
The Bears also have to lose one of their final two games -- they play the Jaguars and Packers -- and if all that happens, the 8-8 Vikings would get in over the 8-8 Bears and 8-8 Cardinals. On the other hand, if the Vikings lose Friday, they will be eliminated from playoff contention.
The Vikings are one of six teams that could be eliminated this week with a loss. Here's what has to happen for each of those six teams to get knocked out:
Vikings: OUT with loss OR Cardinals win
Raiders: OUT with loss OR Ravens win
Eagles: OUT with loss OR Washington win
Giants: OUT with loss plus Washington OR Philadelphia win
Cowboys: OUT with loss OR Washington win
Bears: OUT with loss plus Arizona win
A win by Washington could potentially end up eliminating every team in the NFC East.
4. NFL Week 16 NFL picks
In case you haven't noticed, we love to make picks here at CBS Sports. As a matter of fact, I even love to make picks about who's going to have the best picks each week. Two guys who almost always do a good job with their picks are Jordan Dajani and Tom Fornelli and even though it's Christmas Eve, these guys went to the Bill Belichick school of working, which means NO DAYS OFF.
With that in mind, let's check out one pick from each guy for Week 16:
- Dajani: Colts (-1.5) at Steelers. The Steelers have gone four straight games without scoring at least 20 points, they've lost three in a row and Ben Roethlisberger admitted this week that the team is playing like 'poo.' I think we can all agree with Jordan that you shouldn't back a team that's playing like poo. Dajani's pick: Colts 27-24 over Pittsburgh.
- Fornelli: Panthers (+2.5) at Washington. This is a revenge game for Ron Rivera, but Fornelli isn't backing Rivera to cover the spread here and that's because he's decided not to bet against the greatest underdog quarterback in the history of football. Over the course of his career, Teddy Bridgewater is 19-2 against the spread as a road underdog. That's the kind of stat that only a gambling degenerate like Fornelli would know and that's the kind of stat that can make you money. Fornelli's pick: Washington 23-21 over Panthers (Panthers cover).
For a look at Fornelli's three "Best Bets" for Week 16, be sure to click here. If you're looking for the rest of Dajani's Week 16 picks -- he picks every game -- be sure to click here. One other thing, if you like this newsletter, I should have you know that Fornelli also writes a newsletter and it's just as fun. It's the CBS Sports HQ PM edition newsletter and you can subscribe to it by clicking here.
5. Saturday NFL triple-header will feature a Lions team with almost no coaches
One time I drank so much egg nog on Christmas Day that I was basically in an egg nog coma for 17 straight hours, and it might have even been more than that, but I can't be sure, because keeping track of time when you're in an egg nog coma is nearly impossible. The point here is that if you're in an egg nog coma on Saturday, that might not be such a bad thing and that's because there are THREE games to watch.
I never thought I'd say this, but the most fascinating one might be the one involving the Lions. The team announced on Thursday that interim head coach Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, defensive line coach Bo Davis, defensive backs coach Steve Gregory and linebackers coach Ty McKenzie all will not be coaching in Saturday's game against Tampa Bay due to COVID-19 protocols. Sounds like Detroit is going to have a fun Christmas
Let's take a quick look at each game:
Buccaneers at Lions (+9.5), 1 p.m. ET (NFL Network): In what might be an NFL first, the Lions are going to have their third head coach of the season in this game. Half the Lions coaching staff is out due to COVID-19, including interim coach Darrell Bevell, which means the job of head coach is going to fall on the shoulders of Robert Prince, who is usually the team's wide receivers coach. Also, the Lions defensive coordinator on Saturday is going to be someone who works in their "research and analysis" department. If Bruce Arians gets out-coached in this game, he might want to think about firing himself. Breech's pick: Buccaneers 27-17 over Lions
49ers at Cardinals (-5), 4:30 p.m. ET (Amazon Prime Video): If you're hoping to watch this game, I hope you have Amazon Prime, because this is the only game all season that won't be broadcast on television. Amazon gave the NFL a ton of money to renew Thursday night streaming rights last April and the league responded by giving the internet giant its own standalone game to be streamed on Amazon Prime. Breech's pick: Cardinals 31-23 over 49ers
Dolphins at Raiders (+3), 8:15 p.m. ET (NFL Network): After going down with an ugly groin injury in Week 15, it looked like Derek Carr's season might be over, but apparently, that's not the case. Carr actually practiced on Wednesday and part of me thinks he did it because he doesn't want to get Wally Pipp'd by Marcus Mariota. For you younger readers, Wally Pipp lost his starting job to Lou Gehrig and then Gehrig ended up playing in a million straight games, so Pipp never got his job back. I'm not saying Carr has a right to be worried, but if Mariota did start and beat the Dolphins and then also won in Week 17, I feel that would give Jon Gruden a lot to think about heading into the offseason. That being said, I don't care who starts for the Raiders, I'm picking the Dolphins. Breech's pick: Dolphins 20-17 over Raiders
Besides these three games, we also have a full slate of games on Sunday and a normal Monday night game. To check out the full schedule for this weekend, be sure to click here.
6. MVP Watch: Josh Allen sneaks back into race
The Buffalo Bills haven't had an NFL MVP in 47 years, but that drought could end this season if Josh Allen can somehow take home the award. Allen has snuck his way back into the MVP race; at least he has in the eyes of the NFL writers here at CBSSports.com. Our Cody Benjamin rounded up a panel of experts to vote on the MVP award heading into Week 16 and Allen vaulted up to third after ranking fifth the last time we did this two weeks ago.
The panel of voters included CBS Sports senior reporter Jonathan Jones, NFL writers Jared Dubin, Cody Benjamin, Tyler Sullivan, Jordan Dajani, Jeff Kerr and Josh Edwards. Plus me, because let's be honest, I'm the MVP of voting on things, so you kind of have to include me.
Here's a breakdown of our voting:
I personally voted for Mahomes at one, so I'm glad to see nearly everyone agreed with me. A total of eight players received at least one vote and if you want to know who else landed on the list, you can check out the voting by clicking here.
If Allen does win, he'd be the first Bills player to win the award since Thurman Thomas in 1991.
7. The Kicker!
I wasn't planning to end the newsletter by writing about Dwayne Haskins, but when an NFL quarterback is making it rain at a strip club while not wearing a mask during a pandemic, the story writes itself. Since there were no quarterbacks at strip clubs last night, we can go back to talking about the most important position in football: Kickers.
When the Pro Bowl rosters were announced earlier this week, I forgot to mention the fact that Younghoe Koo made the team, which might be the real Christmas miracle of 2020. Let's take a quick look at his path to the Pro Bowl:
2017: Cut by the Chargers after just four games (The Chargers clearly know nothing about kicking).
2018: OUT OF FOOTBALL.
2019: Kicks in the Alliance of American Football, but loses job after AAF folds (later signs with Falcons).
2020: Leads NFL in field goals made, voted to Pro Bowl as NFC starter.
Now I don't feel so silly for asking my family to get me a Koo jersey for Christmas. If you're wondering who the Pro Bowl kicker was in the AFC, it was Justin Tucker.
Anyway, I hope you guys have a happy holiday weekend and if I didn't make it clear to start the newsletter, we're taking Dec. 25 off and I'll be back on Monday... as long as I'm not still in an egg nog coma.