Good morning, beautiful! Rise and shine because we've got another wonderful week ahead of us this week, one that kicks off with TWO Monday Night Football games on the schedule. Pretty blessed, eh?
Hope you enjoyed your weekend and aren't too drained from whatever trouble you got into over the past couple of days. Me? I dove fully into the Christmas spirit by decorating my tree and watching both "The Santa Clause" movies -- a delightful film franchise based around the idea that if you kill a guy, you just get to take over his job with no questions asked.
Lucky for you, I also had games on all weekend and am fully prepared to get you up to speed on what you should know this morning. So pour that coffee (perhaps with the always elite seasonal addition of some peppermint mocha CoffeeMate) and hop into a chair so we can kick off another ride this week.
📰 What you need to know
1. NFL Week 13 grades: Who gets A's? 🏈
You know the deal ... another Monday means another opportunity to run through this weekend's NFL slate and pick out some of the more noteworthy results for further review. Sunday brought some surprising and, in some cases, downright strange results so we should have no shortage of grades to highlight this morning. Without further ado, let's get to these report cards.
- Browns (A) explode against Titans (D+): The Browns had five touchdowns in the first half and Baker Mayfield (334 yards, four TDs) put together arguably his best game as a pro. Tennessee was a mess defensively and turned the ball over three times, but pulled it together in the second half and went on a 28-3 run before ultimately falling short, 41-35
- Colt McCoy's Giants (A+) stun Seahawks (F): Nobody expected the Giants to roll into Seattle and win with Colt McCoy as their QB. And yet McCoy (105 yards, one TD, one INT) led the Giants to a 17-12 victory, further cementing the Giants as the best team in the NFL's worst division. Wayne Gallman rushed for 135 yards as the Seahawks looked shaky on both sides of the ball
- Patriots (A+) completely throttle Chargers (F): It was starting to look like it might be a while before we saw a truly dominant Patriots performance again, but here we are. New England owned all three phases of the game en route to a 45-0 win over the Chargers. The Pats got two special teams touchdowns in the victory while the Chargers struggled to even field 11 men at times
Hey, a big congrats to the Browns on their first winning season since 2007!
Also, looking at the Patriots' box score after yesterday's win is hilarious. Cam Newton completed 12 passes and only threw for 69 yards (nice) and a TD, while Jarrett Stidham completed two passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. That's all New England did through the air. It was a masterclass from Bill Belichick, who is starting to get his team back on track with four wins in their last five.
On the other side, though, Anthony Lynn was straight-up dunked on, almost to the point where I'm wondering if his key card should be working at the team facilities this morning. The Chargers are 8-20 since making the playoffs two years ago and patience/excuses for embarrassing duds like this one should be wearing thin, especially with Justin Herbert at the helm.
You can find the rest of Week 13's grades right here, including marks for another big surprise: An oddly close battle between the Chiefs and Broncos on Sunday Night Football last night.
2. Floyd Mayweather to fight Logan Paul in February 🥊
Retirements in boxing/MMA essentially mean nothing -- they're often just used as a marketing and negotiating ploy -- so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced this weekend that he's going to be returning to the boxing ring next year. What is surprising, however, is the guy he's choosing to fight.
- Mayweather announced Sunday that he he'll fight YouTube star Logan Paul in an exhibition event on Feb. 20
- It will be Mayweather's first fight since he retired immediately after beating Connor McGregor in 2017
- Paul has only one official boxing match under his belt -- a 2019 split decision loss to fellow YouTube star KSI
Well, uh, it's safe to say I didn't see this one coming. In one corner we've got a 43-year-old legend of the sport who is 50-0 and widely considered one of the best ever. In the other corner we've got a 25-year-old kid who vlogs and lost his only professional fight to a guy who doesn't even box for a living. Sounds like a pretty fair fight, if you ask me!
In all seriousness, what are we doing here? Are we going to be fully committing to these bizarre pro-am celebrity boxing events as a way to drive PPV numbers and draw attention to the sport? I know the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. event was surprisingly successful and entertaining (unless you're Nate Robinson) but at least that event was headlined by two of the greatest to ever do it, regardless of how old they are.
I want nothing to do with this main event. Not only will it be a thoroughly one-sided fight (if that's not the case it'll be because it's an arranged sham) but both guys involved are deeply unlikable from where I stand. It pains me to know that this event will do big numbers and each fighter will take home a huge chunk of change regardless, thanks to the platforms boasted by each guy. It pains me even more to know that I probably won't be able to resist tuning in even though I'm actively going to hate every second of it.
In one of the most surprising results of this weekend's NFL action, the Las Vegas Raiders juuuuuust barely beat the New York Jets -- and they needed a 46-yard Hail Mary connection between Derek Carr and Henry Ruggs to do so. Normally, watching an opposing team snatch a victory out of your hands via a Hail Mary with five seconds remaining on the clock would be cause for indefinite emotional distress.
However, for many Jets fans rooting for the tank, that brutal loss can be viewed as a positive. It kept them winless on the season and kept Trevor Lawrence squarely in their sights. It was exactly what the doctor ordered and, as our Jason La Canfora wrote yesterday, those Jets fans probably owe the Raiders a little gratitude for successfully pulling off the dramatic win.
- JLC: "Let's face it, this Jets season is going to be ugly and tough to stomach no matter what ... With Christmas around the corner ... Jets fans would be best served by making sure all of this losing results in landing Lawrence, a potential generational talent who might finally get this franchise out of the dregs. A win over the Raiders on Sunday would have been a massive loss."
I agree with JLC and the pro-tankers here. There's no real reason to root for what is essentially a meaningless win against a Raiders team. They should be actively trying to lose every game in order to secure Lawrence's services because that seemingly gives them the best chance at rebuilding and breaking the mold of mediocrity. Plus, 0-16 is a lot more interesting than 1-15 or 2-14. Nobody cares about a one- or two-win season. But living through a totally winless campaign? That's misery worth being proud of.
That being said, wouldn't it be so perfectly Jets if they went 0-16 only for Lawrence to give them the stiff arm and return to Clemson for a senior season? As a true agent of chaos (and a Patriots fan) that's what I'm truly rooting for.
4. Kentucky is off to its worst start in 20 years 🏀
When you think of the most successful basketball programs in the country over the past decade or so, Kentucky has to be very near the top of the list. However, this season is a different story so far...
- After winning their season-opener, the Wildcats have lost three consecutive games (Richmond, Kansas, Georgia Tech)
- The 1-3 start is the program's worst start since 2000-01 and has them in danger of falling out of the Top 25
- Kentucky came into the season with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class and were ranked No. 13
The good news for UK fans is that some of the young talent has shown flashes of success in the early going, even if the team hasn't found its stride as a cohesive unit. Considering the fact that this is a very young team made up of almost no one who played significant minutes last year, a learning curve is to be expected -- especially with the pandemic throwing a wrench into typical preseason processes.
They're starting to dig themselves a hole and they'll need to work on finding ways to create offense and take care of the basketball, but there's reason to hold off on totally panicking just yet. Or go ahead and throw a fit, for all I care. It's your life ... live by your own rules.
📝 Odds & Ends
- No.1 ranked Gonzaga is suspending basketball activities through December 14 after a COVID-19 outbreak within the program
- South Carolina has hired Shane Beamer as its next head football coach
- Are the Phillies trying to unload Zack Wheeler? Depends who you believe. You can find the latest MLB hot stove rumors here
📺 What to watch today
🏈 Washington vs. Steelers, 5 p.m. | PIT -6.5 | TV: FOX
🏈 Bills vs. 49ers, 8:15 p.m. | SF -1 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
💵 Winning wagers: NOVA -122