If I didn't go to sleep last night, does that mean it's still Sunday? If the answer to that question is yes, then welcome to the first ever Sunday newsletter. If the answer to that question is no, then Happy Monday!
If you're wondering why I didn't sleep, it was a combination of three things: The fact that yesterday was possibly the craziest week of the year in the NFL, the fact that I think I had 75 ounces of Red Bull in my system so I could stay up and podcast and the fact that I didn't want to fall asleep until Gregg Williams got fired, which I knew was going to happen today after he made possibly the worst defensive play call of all-time on the Raiders' Hail Mary.
I'd love to talk more about the Hail Mary, but we're going to get that in the rundown, so let's get to today's newsletter. As always, if you want to share this newsletter with everyone you know, I will not be offended. Just click here to grab the link and then send that link to everyone on your email list or just sign them up without telling them. That's what I did with my everyone on in my fantasy football league.
1. Today's Show: Week 13 winners and losers plus full recap
It's Monday, which can only mean one thing: I stayed up until 3 a.m. last night recording a podcast with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson that touched on everything you need to know about Week 13 and let me just say, it's probably for the best that you listen. The games on Sunday were absolutely bonkers with eight of the 12 being decided by one score.
One thing we do every week is hand out our weekly winners and losers from Sunday's action. For our losers this week, Brinson and I got lazy and picked the same team as last week, while Wilson picked the one team that deserved it more than anyone else (cough ** the Seahawks ** cough).
- Winner: Jets. Only the Jets could be considered a winner after losing on a Hail Mary, but that's the case here and that's because they're still on track to earn the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is kind of important because it means they'll be able to draft Trevor Lawrence.
- Loser: Seahawks. If there was one thing I didn't think I'd see on Sunday, it was an NFC East team with a backup quarterback going to Seattle and upsetting the Seahawks. Not only did that happen, but the Seahawks have now lost control of the NFC West race, which is why they're Wilson's big loser.
- Winner: Kevin Stefanski. The Browns have clinched a winning record for the first time since 2007 and they're on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 2002. Any coach who can pull off those two things is not only a winner, but probably also qualifies as a miracle worker.
- Loser: Bears. For the second straight week, Brinson has chosen the Bears as his loser and I'm starting to sense a pattern here. I think he's going to pick them as his loser until they actually win a game and that's fair. The Bears became the first home team over the the past two seasons to blow a double-digit lead with under three minutes left (Home teams had been 123-0 in that situation).
- Winner: Taysom Hill. For the past three years, Sean Payton has insisted that Taysom Hill could be the next Steve Young and although I still think that sounds preposterous, I can now understand what Payton sees in the quarterback. Not only did Hill have the best game of his career against the Falcons, but I'm starting to feel like he's going to be able to create matchup problems for opposing defenses once the postseason starts.
- Loser: Cardinals. I'm starting to think the Hail Mary win over the Bills actually cursed the Cardinals. Since that victory in Week 10, the Cardinals have gone 0-3 and fallen straight out of the playoff race. Well, I guess they're technically still in the race, but they've tripped over their own feet and I just don't think they're going to make it to the finish line.
Not only did we list our winners and losers, but we also recapped every game from Sunday. If you want to listen -- and you definitely should -- you can click here.
2. Jets DC Gregg Williams fired for atrocious call on Raiders Hail Mary
There were a lot of crazy plays on Sunday, but the craziest one of all was definitely the one that ended with the Raiders completing a 46-yard Hail Mary for a touchdown to beat the Jets 31-28. If you haven't seen the Hail Mary, feel free to click here so you can watch it before we dive into what may have been the worst defensive play call of all-time.
I am not a defensive coordinator, but with the Raiders needing 46 yards for a touchdown and having just 13 seconds to score, there is a 100% chance that I would have put roughly nine defenders back to make sure I don't get beat by a Hail Mary. However, Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn't think like that. Instead, he blitzed EVERYONE, and I mean everyone. The Jets rushed eight, which only left three defensive backs, who were all in man-to-man coverage.
According to ESPN, there have been 251 end of game plays since 2006 that were similar to what the Raiders had on Sunday and not one defensive coordinator had everyone rush the quarterback like Williams did. With the Jets in man-to-man, Henry Ruggs blew past his defender and made the easy catch for the win.
The defensive play call was so bad that even the Raiders were in shock that the Jets did it.
Even Ruggs was wondering what the heck the Jets were doing.
"We were kind of surprised they brought the house like that," Ruggs said.
You know it's bad when your own players are questioning the call and that's what Jets safety Marcus Maye did to his defensive coordinator.
"We have to execute, but you have to help us out at the same time," Maye said.
Williams was the defensive coordinator for the 0-16 Browns in 2017 and now he might be the defensive coordinator for the 0-16 Jets. I'm starting to think maybe defensive coordinator isn't the best job for him and it appears that Adam Gase agrees, because he fired Williams on Monday.
3. Monday preview: Prepping you for two games
The only thing better than one Monday night game is TWO Monday night games and that's exactly what we'll be getting tonight.
The Steelers and Washington were originally scheduled to play on Sunday in Week 13, but then the Ravens-Steelers game got pushed back to Wednesday last week so the NFL decided to move the Pittsburgh-Washington game to tonight. One advantage Washington is definitely going to have is the fact that they're going to be far more rested. Washington hasn't played since Thanksgiving, which means they'll have had 11 days between games while the Steelers will have had just five.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a few keys for each team tonight in a game where the Steelers are favored by 6.5 points:
- Washington: The Steelers have one of the best defenses in the NFL and if Washington is going to score points, it's going to need its best players to shine on Monday, which means Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin are both going to have to come up big. Gibson's performance will be especially important and that's because if there's one way to move the ball on the Steelers, it's on the ground. Although Pittsburgh has the best pass defense in football, they're surrendering more than 100 yards per game on the ground.
- Steelers: The health of Ben Roethlisberger is going to be a key in this game for Pittsburgh. Although Big Ben will definitely be playing, he was listed as questionable for the game with a knee injury, which isn't ideal, considering he'll be going up against a Washington pass-rush that's been beating up opposing quarterbacks this season. If Roethlisberger looks healthy and spreads the ball out to his multitude of targets, including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington and Eric Ebron, then the Steelers are going to be tough to stop.
Breech's prediction: Steelers 31-17 over Washington.
For a more in-depth preview on this game from Bryan DeArdo, be sure to click here.
The other game happening on Monday will be taking place in Arizona between the 49ers and the Bills. That is not a typo: The game is being played in Arizona because the 49ers have been kicked out of the Bay Area for three weeks.
Let's take a look at a few keys for each team tonight in a game where the 49ers are favored by one point (The Bills actually opened as the favorite, but bettors latched on to San Francisco):
- 49ers: The Bills have a top-10 passing offense and if the 49ers are going to win, they're going to need slow down Buffalo's air attack. The good news for the 49ers is that they have the personnel to do that in corners Jason Verrett and Richard Sherman. If one of those two can take Stefon Diggs out of the game, that will allow defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to dial up a few surprises while also potentially keeping a shadow on Josh Allen so that he doesn't take off and run.
- Bills: Like every Bills game, Buffalo's chances of winning are going to completely revolve around Josh Allen. When Allen's on his game, the Bills win, and when he's not, they lose. Allen doesn't even have to be great, he just has to take care of the football. The Bills are 7-0 this season when Allen has a QB rating above 80, but just 1-3 when it's below 80. If Allen can avoid turning the ball over, the Bills should be able to escape with a victory.
Breech's prediction: Bills 30-27 over 49ers.
For a more in-depth preview on this game from Jared Dubin, be sure to click here.
4. Week 11 grades: Browns get an 'A' for dominating win
Every week, I team up with six of my colleagues here at CBSSports.com to hand out grades, and this week we all shed a tear as the Browns graduated out of our imaginary football school with an 'A' performance in their crazy win over the Titans.
Here's a look at the grades from two notable games that were played Sunday:
Browns 41, Titans 35 (Click here for full recap)
Browns takeaway: We finally found out how good the Browns can be when Baker Mayfield brings his 'A' game. The Browns quarterback threw four touchdowns in the first half, which is notable, because no Browns quarterback had done that since 1951. It's also notable because it helped the Browns shoot out to a 38-7 halftime lead and as the final score clearly indicates, they needed every bit of that 31-point lead. Grade: A+
Titans takeaway: The fact that the Titans pitiful defense couldn't stop the Browns wasn't that out of character, but the way their offense struggled early certainly was. Derrick Henry had his first fumble of the season and it came in the first quarter. The Titans also went three-and-out on two of their first five possessions. It's pretty clear the Titans defense isn't great and now we know what happens when the offense isn't around to pick up the slack. Grade: D+
Giants takeaway: For awhile there, I was starting to think that no one actually wanted to win the NFC East, but now I've been convinced otherwise thanks to the Giants. In one of the biggest upsets of the season, the Giants went into Seattle with their backup quarterback and stunned the Seahawks. They were able to pull it off thanks to a defense that smothered Russell Wilson and an offense that somehow scored 17 points in the second half with backup QB Colt McCoy running the show. Grade: A
Seahawks takeaway: This loss was inexplicable. Their defense couldn't stop a Giants team that was led by a backup quarterback (Colt McCoy) and they also got steamrolled by Wayne Gallman, who ran for a career-high 135 yards. Before Sunday, Gallman had never even hit the 100-yard mark in his career. The Seahawks offense also sputtered for most of the game before finally showing signs of life late in the fourth quarter, but by then, it was too little, too late. Grade: F
As for the other 20 grades we handed out on Sunday, you can check those out by clicking here.
5. NFL playoff picture heading into Monday night
The biggest change you're going to notice in the playoff picture his week is that the Arizona Cardinals are embracing the holiday season by GIVING AWAY their playoff spot. A few weeks ago, there was talk of them winning the NFC West, but now, their season has totally spiraled out of control and I'm not sure they're going to win another game.
So who's the biggest benefactor of Arizona's late season slide? Let's check out the playoff picture and find out.
Two key things to remember before checking out the standings below is that SEVEN teams will be getting in and that only the top seed will be getting a bye. Also, the "First team out" is being listed because that team could end up making that playoffs if the NFL ends up expanding the postseason to 16 teams. That proposal has already been approved, but the expansion to 16 will only happen if multiple regular season games that have a bearing on the playoff race get canceled.
Note: Teams with an asterisk next to their name have clinched a postseason berth. The Steelers can clinch one tonight with a win over Washington.
Even if the Steelers lose tonight to Washington, they'll still have the No. 1 seed thanks to the old conference record tiebreaker. The only other spot here that could change tonight is the three and four seeds. If the Bills lose to the 49ers, they'll drop to four and Tennessee will jump up to three. Also, the Raiders' Hail Mary might have saved their season. The Raiders still have to play the Colts AND Dolphins, which means if they win out, they're likely in.
I'm guessing no one is happier about the Cardinals' late-season collapse than the Minnesota Vikings. Since Week 9, the Vikings have picked up a total of three games on Arizona, which has allowed them to jump into the seventh and final spot in the NFC. Do you deserve to make the playoffs if you get taken to overtime by the Jaguars? Probably not, but that's not for me to decide. Speaking of that final spot, if the 49ers win tonight, that will move them to 6-6, but it won't change any of the seedings above.
6. Eagles QB controversy
It took 13 weeks, but it's finally happened: The Philadelphia Eagles have a full-fledged QB controversy on their hands. So much for the city of brotherly love.
Carson Wentz probably should have already been benched this year, but the Eagles have refused to pull the trigger and I'm guessing that's due to the fact that he has a $128 million contract. After watching Wentz struggle against the Packers (6 of 15 for 79 yards), Eagles coach Doug Pederson decided to pull him and put in Jalen Hurts, which was a decision that paid off almost immediately. On Philly's second possession with Hurts, he did something Wentz couldn't do against Green Bay: He led the Eagles to a touchdown.
Hurts struggled some on Sunday, which is expected, because he's a rookie, but he was clearly the better QB and I personally feel like he gives the Eagles a better chance to win right now. I mean, he can't be much worse than Wentz, who ranks second-to-last in completion percentage, fourth-to-last in interception percentage, third-to-last in yards per attempt, and third-to-last in quarterback rating among qualified quarterbacks. On the season, Wentz has completed just 57.4% of his passes for 2,620 yards with 16 touchdowns to 15 interceptions (72.8 rating).
Pederson has refused to name a starter for Week 14, which tells me he's learning toward Hurts because if your normal starter is going to be your starter, then just name him your starter. On the other hand, if you're going to bench your regular guy, that's something you want to let everyone in the organization know about before you publicly announce the move.
Of course, it might not matter who starts and that's because the Eagles are playing the Saints in Week 14 and don't think Philly is going to win with Wentz or Hurts.
7. The Kicker!
Even Patrick Mahomes needs help from his kicker sometimes. Although it seems like the Chiefs score a touchdown every time they have the ball, that definitely wasn't the case on Sunday night as they had to settle for FIVE FIELD GOALS from Harrison Butker. The only reason I'm bringing that up is because it marks the first time since Mahomes took over the starting job that a Chiefs kicker was forced to carry the team with five field goals. Imagine that, a kicker carrying the Chiefs offense.
Before Sunday, the last time the Chiefs had five field goals in a game was in 2017 when Alex Smith was the starter. Also, on a personal note, Butker is on my fantasy team, so I'm completely in favor of the Chiefs kicking more field goals.
I'm also in favor drinking another cup of coffee, which I'm going to do right now. With two Monday games, I going to need an IV of Red Bull to get through tonight. If I sound extra caffeinated on Tuesday, that's why. See you guys tomorrow!