Welcome back to the grind, friend! Hopefully you were able to enjoy an extended holiday break and appreciate the things you're thankful for. As for me, I'm thankful for the one reader who checked in to see if I was so devastatingly hungover that I wasn't able to send out a newsletter on Friday. (As it turns out, I was not hungover and instead just enjoying a day off. Sorry if I worried you.)
We had plenty of sports viewing options over the weekend -- from college football (RIP to my beloved Longhorns 😭) and basketball, to weird boxing and, of course, plenty of NFL. I can only hope you got to enjoy some of it, maybe with some leftovers to boot.
Of course, even if you missed it all, I'm here to bring you up to speed. Let's get to work, shall we?
📰 What you need to know
1. Grading Week 12 NFL performances 🏈
We didn't exactly have the greatest Thanksgiving Day games this year, huh? It turned out to be a couple of sloppy blowouts that didn't make a compelling case to fight your post-turkey nap. Luckily, there was more action to be had yesterday. As always, we've got some Monday morning grades to hand out:
- Raiders (F) totally melt down vs. Falcons (A+): Hey, uh, remember when Derek Carr was quietly in the MVP discussion? Not anymore! Carr turned the ball over four times and looked completely lost as Las Vegas got smacked by the Falcons, 43-6. Atlanta sacked Carr five times, held Josh Jacobs to just 27 yards on the ground and didn't give up a touchdown
- 49ers (A) earn surprising win against Rams (C): Nick Mullens outplayed Jared Goff and the Rams turned the ball over four times. San Fran's defense got some big-time performances and didn't allow LA to convert a single third down in the second half
- Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (A) top Tom Brady's Bucs (C): It looked like the Chiefs were going to absolutely run away with this game in the first half, but the final score line (27-24 KC) ended up being a lot closer than expected. However, Mahomes (462 yards, three TDs) and Tyreek Hill (13 catches, 269 yards, 3 TDs) absolutely shredded the Tampa defense
You can find the rest of yesterday's marks right here, including the Broncos getting a completely unsurprising F without any of their quarterbacks available to play. Denver completed one pass all game for a whopping 13 yards with Kendall Hinton -- a practice squad wide receiver -- filling in under center.
Somehow, an NFL game with the starting quarterback matchup of Taysom Hill vs. Kendall Hinton will not crack the Top 100 weirdest things to happen this year.
2. A wild, weird weekend of boxing 🥊
Speaking of weird sports things to happen in 2020, we had that outrageous boxing PPV event headlined by Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday night. There's a lot that can go wrong when the combined age of your main event fighters is 105, and I was a bit worried that it would end up being a sad trainwreck, but it actually turned out to be a pretty successful and entertaining night.
From a competitive standpoint, there was no outright winner (Tyson and Jones Jr. fought to a split draw) but both legends looked impressive for their age. More importantly, they secured a pretty nice bag and didn't get badly hurt in the process. Oh, and you bet we are going to talk about YouTube star Jake Paul embarrassing former NBA star Nate Robinson in the undercard fight.
Let's get some takeaways from the night, courtesy of our Brian Campbell:
- A big night for Tyson: Campbell says this was "a win for Tyson in just about every way." Boxing professionally for the first time since 2005, Iron Mike looked pretty damn crisp. He showed surprising stamina and had Jones in survival mode for a chunk of the fight. Even if he didn't get the win, it was a strong showing and seemingly a genuinely cathartic experience for Tyson
- Snoop Dogg was the MVP: On a night where nostalgia and good but not-so-clean fun were the main menu items, it seemed fitting that Snoop Dogg was there to steal the show. Not only did he provide a musical performance, he also brought a ton of levity to the broadcast booth and helped make sure the bizarre PPV didn't take itself too seriously
- The Paul Brothers take boxing seriously: The night wasn't all about Tyson and Jones (and Snoop). In fact, the biggest moment of the night came when Paul absolutely demolished Robinson in one of the undercard fights. (That brutal KO sent the internet into a frenzy, by the way.) After KOing Robinson, he immediately called out Conor McGregor and Dillon Danis in hopes of landing future fights. Maybe he and his brother (Logan Paul) are made for boxing???
You can check out a few more takeaways from Campbell here.
It's pretty wild to think that a couple of boxers on the wrong side of 50 went toe-to-toe for eight rounds and still probably woke up feeling better than Robinson on Sunday morning. I think Nate's probably going to want to spend a little bit more time training. He may also want to try fighting someone more his size next time ... if there is a next time. (If not, I certainly can't blame him.) Also, I hope he didn't go on Twitter yesterday.
3. The Giants are on track to win the NFC East 🏈
As much as it pains me to say it, I think we should talk about the NFC East. I'd imagine that I'm not hurting anyone's feelings by saying this: the division is absolutely trash and it's borderline criminal that one of those teams is going to make the playoffs.
But that's the way things work in the NFL, and one of those crappy teams is going to win that crappy division. Right now, it's looking like the Giants are heading toward that honor. Our Jonathan Jones believes they'll be able to get to six wins, which should be enough.
- Jones: "The Giants are playing the most consistent football in the division right now. With the exception of the Week 3 beatdown at the hands of the 49ers — one week after Saquon Barkley tore his ACL — New York has been in every game all season long. You are what your record says you are, and the Giants are absolutely a 4-7 football team. But they have a stingy defense that is top 10 in the league in takeaways and added more to their total Sunday against the Bengals."
None of what Jones says there is wrong, but the Giants winning the division certainly isn't a lock right now ... especially if the hamstring injury that Daniel Jones suffered in yesterday's win is as bad as some reports are indicating. And while they've won three straight games, they're also about to play four straight games against a team with a winning record. They haven't beaten a team with a winning record yet this season.
So, are you as convinced as our Jonathan Jones? Or do you think that another one of those teams is going to stumble backwards into the playoffs? And I guess this should probably be asked, too: Is it even worth caring about, considering the postseason demolition that awaits the lucky winner?
4. Latest NFL firings: Lions begin to clean house, Jags let go of GM 🏈
We're another week deeper into this NFL season and the league's unemployment line is steadily growing in numbers. If you thought that the weird circumstances surrounding this season would afford some coaches and execs a little extra leash from the people signing their checks ... well, some of those leashes have still managed to reach their end.
We had a couple of big firings recently, so let's recap:
- The Lions axed head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn after a 41-25 blowout loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving
- Patricia joined the Lions in 2018 and went 13-29-1 (.314 win percentage) in two-and-a-half seasons
- The Jaguars fired general manager Dave Caldwell on Sunday following the Jags' loss to the Browns
- Caldwell had been GM in Jacksonville since 2013 but couldn't survive the team's 1-10 start to this season
- Jags' head coach Doug Marrone will remain in his role through the rest of the season
It's tough to say that any of these firings are totally surprising or unwarranted, though I'm confused about whether Jacksonville actually thought they'd be better at this point. Either way, it appears that hot seats still burns during a pandemic season.
It feels fair to wonder what it's gonna take to see the Bears add a few names to the unemployment list, especially after that embarrassing performance they put up last night.
📝 Odds & Ends
- The Broncos requested (and were denied) the option to have one of their coaches play quarterback yesterday
- Clark Lea and Jay Norvell lead the list of names to replace Derek Mason at Vanderbilt
- College football bowl projections: Notre Dame moves into a playoff spot as New Year's Six shuffles
📺 What to watch today
🏈 Seahawks vs. Eagles, 8:15 p.m. | PHI +6.5 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns as he improved to 20-5 against the Bears in his career.
💵 Winning wagers: GB -7.5, Over (44.5)