It turns out Santa Claus wasn’t the only one handing out gifts over the weekend. After watching football for 72 straight hours, I can unequivocally say that the Raiders gifted the Dolphins a win on Saturday. I’m also pretty sure the the Colts gift-wrapped that victory for the Steelers on Sunday. I think you could also make the argument that Washington basically sent out gifts to the Cowboys and Giants by starting Dwayne Haskins against the Panthers.
Apparently, Washington was kind of bitter about Haskins gifting the Panthers a win with two interceptions, because they decided to cut him on Monday.
As for my gifts, I got an espresso machine, which I think is my wife’s way of telling me that I spend way too much money at Starbucks. Of course, I kind of started to figure that out on my own when I noticed that half of my last paycheck went to coffee (the other half went to diapers).
I could probably spend the entire newsletter talking about coffee and/or diapers but we have a lot of NFL ground to cover, so I’m going to ignore those topics… at least for today. With that in mind, let’s get to the rundown. If you’re still trying to think of a New Year’s resolution, I have an idea: You can share this newsletter with everyone you know. 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, and if you do that, then we’ll all have a fun 2021.
1. Today’s Show: Week 16 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 16, and let me just say, it’s probably for the best that you listen. Although we talked about every game that was played on Sunday, we spent most of our time talking about the playoff picture and arguing about who’s going to make it and who’s going to be left at home. I’ve never lost an argument with them so chances are I’ll end up being right about every team I predicted to make the playoffs.
One thing we do every week is hand out our weekly winners and losers from Sunday’s action. For our winners this week, Wilson got lazy and picked the same team from last week, Brinson gave it to the team that just earned the top pick in the NFL Draft and I gave it to the Cowboys, because I may or may not be brainwashed by Jerry Jones.
- Winner: Jets. I’m not sure if the Jets are trying to save Adam Gase’s job, but it’s kind of starting to feel that way, which is weird, because three weeks ago, it felt like they had already quit on him. Sam Darnold is also a winner and that’s because he might actually be given a chance to be the Jets QB of the future now that Trevor Lawrence is out of the picture.
- Loser: Browns. Look Browns, we get it, you didn’t have any receivers on Sunday, but you were playing the Jets. All you had to do was beat the Jets and you would have clinched your first playoff berth since 2002. That’s it. Being short-handed didn’t help, but you know who won a game over the weekend without any receivers? Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was throwing to two guys who played quarterback in college and still won. Be more like Ryan Fitzpatrick (If you haven’t seen Fitzpatrick’s crazy no-look throw to win the game, be sure to click here and watch).
- Winner: Jaguars. In what may go down as the greatest tank of all-time, the Jaguars have successfully locked up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Although they tricked all of us into thinking they were good in Week 1 with a win over the Colts, they successfully managed to lose 14 straight games to lock up Lawrence, which is impressive, because it’s not easy to lose 14 straight games in the NFL, even if you’re trying to.
- Loser: Dwayne Haskins. This guy literally had the worst week ever. First, he decided to go to a stripper party during a pandemic while not wearing a mask, which is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you consider that his coach was battling cancer this year. Then, with a chance to lock up a playoff berth on Sunday, Haskins fell flat on his face for three quarters before being benched for a guy who was out of football in 2019 (Taylor Heinicke). The cherry on top of the stripper pole here is that Haskins then got cut. If you’ve ever wondered what it would take for a first-round quarterback to get released less than two years into his rookie contract, you now have the answer.
- Winner: Cowboys. Five weeks ago, this team was left for dead by everyone EXCEPT FOR ME. As the president of the Andy Dalton fan club and the driver of the Cowboys bandwagon, I made a bold prediction in November that the 3-8 Cowboys WOULD WIN THE NFC EAST and now, it’s just one win and a Washington loss away from happening. The fact that this team is still alive is a minor miracle, which is why they’re my winner this week.
- Loser: Colts. The Colts blew a 24-7 third quarter lead by giving up 21 second half points to a team that had gone four straight weeks without scoring more than 20 points in an ENTIRE game, and in the process, Indianapolis lost control of its playoff fate due to the loss. If that doesn’t make you the loser for the week, I don’t know what does.
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. Jared Goff could be done for the year
The Rams didn’t just lose a shot at the NFC West title with their lost to the Seahawks on Sunday, they might have also lost Jared Goff for the rest of the season. According to multiple reports, Goff broke his thumb against Seattle and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to play over the next few weeks.
The injury comes at a horrible time for the Rams, who still haven’t even clinched a playoff spot yet, despite their 9-6 record. With one week left in the season, the Rams are the only team in the NFC that could finish anywhere from the fifth-seed to out of the playoffs altogether.
If Goff is out, the Rams will be counting on backup John Wolford to save their season, which arguably isn’t ideal, considering that Wolford has never thrown an NFL pass before. His only professional playing experience came in 2019 when he was the starting quarterback for the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF. After the league folded in March, he signed with the Rams. He also was cut by the Jets after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018, which means the Rams’ playoff hopes are going to ride on a guy who couldn’t even crack the Jets roster.
The only upside for the Rams is that they could still make the playoffs even if they lose in Week 16. Here’s a look at their four scenarios:
Rams win plus Buccaneers loss
Rams win plus Buccaneers win/tie OR Rams tie
Rams loss plus Bears loss/tie
Rams loss plus Bears win
The Rams have until 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday to get their QB situation figured out because that’s what time they’re scheduled to kick off.
3. Monday preview: Prepping you for Bills-Patriots
If you need a reason to watch this game tonight, I have three: First, this is the final Monday game of the season, which means you should be watching it on principle alone. Also, a lot of people hate the Patriots, which makes this the perfect game to hate-watch since this marks the first time in 20 years that New England is playing a game in Week 16 having already been eliminated from the playoffs. Finally, you should watch because the Bills are fun to watch and let me just say that “The Bills are fun to watch” are six words that before 2020 I never thought I’d type.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few keys for each team tonight in a game where the Bills are favored by seven points:
- Patriots: New England’s offense has basically been non-functional all year, which means the only way the Patriots going to be able to win this game is if they can somehow shut down Josh Allen and the Bills offense. The fact that they’ve already done it once should give the Patriots some confidence. During a 24-21 Bills win in Week 8, the Patriots held Allen to just 154 passing yards, his second lowest total of the season. He also threw zero touchdown passes, marking just one of two games where he came away empty this year.
- Bills: The Bills offense could potentially feast in this game. Although they got shut down the last time these two teams played, there’s one big difference this time around: The Patriots won’t have Stephon Gilmore (IR), which means we could see a huge game from Stefon Diggs. Even if the Bills passing game struggles, Buffalo can simply turn to the run. The last time these two teams met, Buffalo averaged five yards per carry while piling up 190 rushing yards.
Breech’s prediction: Bills 24-17 over Patriots.
For a more in-depth preview of this game from Jared Dubin, be sure to click here.
4. Week 15 grades: Bears get an ‘A’ for keeping their playoff hopes alive
Every week, I team up with six of my colleagues here at CBSSports.com to hand out grades, and this week, we were ready to give the Steelers another failing grade, but then they somehow came out of their four-week offensive coma to earn an ‘A-.’
Here’s a look at the grades from two games that were played Sunday, including the Colts-Steelers game:
Steelers 28, Colts 24 (Click here for full recap)
Steelers takeaway: Ben Roethlisberger apparently gave a halftime speech in this game and I’m not sure what he said, but maybe he should think about giving one every week, because the Steelers seemed to respond well. Although the Steelers were trailing 24-7 in the third quarter, they were able to pull off a stunning win thanks to the fact that their offense got its groove back. Big Ben threw for 244 of his 342 yards after halftime while also throwing all three of his TD passes in the second half. Grade: A-
Colts takeaway: It’s not often that a coach will throw himself under the bus after a loss, but that’s what Frank Reich did here. The Colts coach admitted that his team suffered from bad play-calling in the second half, which was one reason why the Colts weren’t able to score a single touchdown over the final two quarters of the game. That bus that Reich threw himself under is about to run the Colts out of the playoffs and that’s because Indy no longer controls its playoff fate after Sunday’s loss. Grade: D
Chiefs takeaway: The Chiefs slept-walk through this game and still won, which is both good and bad. The good news for the Chiefs is that they’re so good that they can sleep-walk and still win. The bad news for Kansas City is that it seems like they’ve been sleep-walking for seven straight weeks. If the Chiefs can’t turn it on in the postseason, they might be primed for an upset. Grade: C
Falcons takeaway: The Falcons find a new way to lose every week and this time around, they lost because their most reliable player (Younghoe Koo) didn’t come through in the clutch. Koo missed a 39-yard field goal with under 15 seconds left to play, which was shocking, because Koo had zero misses between 30 and 39 yards all season going into Week 16. Of course, this game wouldn’t have come down to a Koo kick if A.J. Terrell hadn’t dropped a pick in the end zone just minutes earlier that would have iced the game. Grade: B
As for the other 26 grades we handed out, you can check those out by clicking here.
5. NFL playoff picture heading into Monday night
Usually, when we get to Week 17, the NFL playoff picture starts to clear up, but that’s not the case this year, because it’s still a giant muddled mess. As we head into the final week of the season, only three of the AFC’s seven spots have been clinched. The NFC is not as messy, but things are still complicated there with three spots still open.
The biggest winner in Week 17 was the Chiefs and that’s because they’ve clinched the top seed and the bye in the AFC, which means they can rest easy this week if they want.
Note: Teams with an asterisk next to their name have clinched a postseason berth.
Part of the reason the NFL expanded the playoff field was to make sure every deserving team gets in, but in the first year of expansion, that plan might blow up in their face. If every 10-5 team wins in Week 17, that means an 11-5 team will miss the playoffs for just the third time in NFL history (1985 Broncos, 2008 Patriots). Of the four 10-5 teams, the Colts are the only one who won’t control their fate this week as they could miss the postseason even if they beat the Jaguars Sunday. As for the top three seeds, the Bills will move into the second spot with a win over the Patriots on Monday night.
There was a major twist in the NFC playoff picture on Sunday and that came with Jared Goff’s thumb injury. Goff is likely going to miss the Rams’ Week 17 game the injury, which could open the door for Los Angeles to miss the playoffs. If the Rams lose to the Cardinals and the Bears beat the Packers, that will put Chicago and Arizona in the postseason and the Rams will be done for the year. The NFC East will also be up for grabs in Week 17.
6. NFL reveals schedule for Week 17
The NFL loves drama and because of that, nearly every kickoff time in Week 17 has been flexed to provide as much drama as possible for the final week of the season.
The most notable thing about the Week 17 schedule is that Washington at Philadelphia has been flexed to Sunday night. For the Sunday night game, the NFL wants at least one team in a do-or-die situation and that will be happening with Washington. No matter what else happens on Sunday, Washington will clinch the NFC East title with a win, but if the Football Team loses, then the division championship will go to the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game, which is being played at 1 p.m. ET.
Some people might hate the idea of those two teams playing the final game of the season, but I have to say, putting the NFC East in primetime is the most 2020 thing possible. Let’s end the craziest season ever with a game that will make us want to drink so that we don’t remember it or the entire year of 2020.
The early kickoff games will mostly feature teams battling it out for the AFC wild-card spots while the late kickoff games will feature mostly NFC teams.
Here’s a look at the entire Week 17 schedule in case you want to print it out and tape it to your television.
4:25 p.m ET
Saints at Panthers (Fox)
Packers at Bears (Fox)
Raiders at Broncos (CBS)
Chargers at Chiefs (Fox)
Cardinals at Rams (CBS)
Seahawks at 49ers (Fox)
Titans at Texans (CBS)
Jaguars at Colts (CBS)
8:20 p.m. ET
Washington at Philadelphia (NBC)
7. The Kicker!
I have giant bags under my eyes this morning and that’s mostly because I didn’t sleep last night due to the fact that I couldn’t stop watching Younghoe Koo’s missed field goal against the Chiefs that would have tied the game with nine seconds left. I still have no idea how this kick missed. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I did sleep, but if I did, I had nightmares about the kick.
Going into the game, Koo had been perfect on the season on kicks between 30 and 39 yards, which made this attempt feel like a lock since it was from 39. After Koo kicked it, it looked like it was going RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. As a matter of fact, there were three Falcons fans in Kansas City sitting directing behind the uprights who were so sure the ball was going in that they signaled “It’s Good.” (You can see those fans by clicking here). However, the ball didn’t go in, because it sliced right worse than one of my golf shots and ended up missing by about a foot (You can see video of the kick by clicking here).
What this is all means is that I think the Falcons are cursed and it’s probably for the best that they’re not in the playoffs.