December 2, 2022

Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

If you haven’t checked your calendar lately, I have some big news: It’s Thanksgiving week, which means we’ll be spending 63% of the newsletter talking about food instead of football over the next four days. 

One thing we won’t be covering here is the World Cup, but if you want to follow all of our coverage here at CBSSports.com, then make sure to sign up for our soccer newsletter (Golazo), which you can do by clicking here. 

OK, let’s forget about the World Cup for a second though and get back to talking about normal things like the Jets losing. The Jets’ wild loss to the Patriots dropped them out of the top-seven in the AFC playoff picture, which I’m only bringing up because we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the playoff race today. We’ll also be handing out grades and making picks for tonight’s 49ers-Cardinals game in Mexico City. 

As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the Pick Six newsletter. To get your friends to sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share this link with them. Alright, let’s get to the rundown. 

1. Today’s show: Week 11 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 11, and let me just say, it’s probably for the best that you listen. We covered all 12 games from Sunday, which means we likely spent some time talking about your favorite team. 

One thing we do every week is hand out our weekly winners and losers from Sunday’s action. Here’s a look at who made our list.  

Ryan Wilson

  • Winner: Brett Maher (and every other Cowboys player). The Cowboys embarrassed the Vikings 40-3 in a game that was easily Dallas’ best of the season. One of the most impressive performances for the Cowboys came from Maher, who hit four field goals, including a 60-yarder! The field goal from 60 yards was the fourth of Maher’s career from 60 or beyond, which is an NFL record. 
  • Loser: Kenny Pickett. Ryan Wilson is the resident Steelers fan on the podcast and if the the Steelers have lost him, it might be time to bench Pickett and put Mitchell Trusbisky back in.

Will Brinson

  • Winner: Dan Campbell. It appears that everyone in Detroit might actually be buying into Dan Campbell’s philosophy of biting kneecaps off because the Lions definitely bit off the Giants’ kneecaps on Sunday. The Lions are now on a three-game winning streak and their 31-18 dismantling of the 7-3 Giants was easily their most impressive win to date. 
  • Loser: Nathaniel Hackett. With the Broncos offense struggling, Hackett finally gave up play-calling duties and that seemed to give the offense a small spark, but then Denver’ defense melted down at the end of the game in a 22-16 overtime loss to the Raiders. Hackett can’t win no matter what he does and his already hot seat is now the same temperature as the surface of the sun.  

John Breech

  • Winner: Andy Dalton. Instead of benching Dalton, Saints coach Dennis Allen decided to stick with the QB this week, and Dalton made the gamble pay off. Going up against a tough Rams defense, Dalton had his best game of the year, going 21 of 25 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, which gave him a nearly perfect QB rating (149.5). As good as Dalton was, my other takeaway is that the Rams might just want to pack it up for the season. If you’re getting diced up by Andy Dalton, it might be time to just start looking ahead to 2023. 
  • Loser: Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh. Wilson got eaten alive by the Patriots defense, which isn’t even the worst part, because opposing quarterbacks get eaten alive by Bill Belichick all the time, the worst part is that he took zero responsibility for his play. As bad as Wilson was, the Jets still could have won this game if they would have just PUNTED THE BALL OUT OF BOUNDS at the end of regulation. If the the coaching staff calls for the punt to go out of bounds, then the game almost certainly goes to overtime, but the Jets decided to test fate and fate responded by punching them in the face. 

Not only did we list our winners and losers, but we also recapped every game from Sunday. To listen to today’s episode, be sure to click here. You can also watch the entire episode on YouTube by clicking here. 

2. Week 11 grades: Patriots get a B- for wild win over Jets, Chiefs earn a B+ for beating Chargers

Every week I team up with six of my colleagues here at CBSSports.com to hand out grades, and this week, the Chiefs earned a B+ from our imaginary football school. 

Here’s a look at the grades from two notable games that were played Sunday:

Patriots 10-3 over N.Y. Jets (Click here for full recap)

  • Patriots grade: B-. The Patriots had an ugly offensive day, but they got bailed out by their defense and a rookie returner who turned into the hero of the game. The Patriots have had some impressive defensive performances under Bill Belichick, but this one was definitely the best in at least one metric: Fewest yards surrendered. The Jets totaled just 103 yards, which was the fewest the Patriots have ever given up under Belichick and the fewest the team had given up in any game since 1988. The Patriots’ brilliant defensive performance almost went to waste, but rookie Marcus Jones saved the day with a game-winning 84-yard punt return TD in the final seconds (You can see the play by clicking here). 
  • Jets grade: C. The Jets defense played well enough to win, but the same definitely can’t be said about about their offense, which totaled just TWO YARDS in the second half. The Jets couldn’t do anything on offense and that mostly had to do with the fact that Zach Wilson looked absolutely lost while going up against Bill Belichick’s defense. Wilson didn’t throw any interceptions, but he did complete just 40.9% of his passes for 77 yards. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the Jets also had a special teams meltdown when they gave up a game-winning punt return TD with five seconds left, but it’s a meltdown that could have been avoided if the coaching staff had just told punter Braden Mann to kick it out of bounds, so the loss is as much on the coaching staff as it is on the punt coverage team. 

Chiefs 30-27 over Chargers (Click here for full recap)

  • Chiefs grade: B+. Hopefully Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce cut the game ball in half after last night’s win because they both definitely deserved to take it home, Mahomes was impressive throughout the night, but he was at his best in the final two minutes with his team trailing 27-23. The Chiefs needed a touchdown to win and Mahomes worked up some magic with Kelce to make that happen. The Chargers know that Mahomes loves throwing to Kelce, but they still couldn’t stop the duo. The Chiefs tight end caught six passes for 115 yards and THREE touchdowns including the game-winner. That duo carried the load for Kansas City on Sunday, but they didn’t do everything. Isiah Pacheco had a huge night that included 107 rushing yards. The Chiefs don’t currently have the best record in the NFL, but they certainly feel like the best team in the NFL right now. 
  • Chargers grade: B-. Whenever the Chargers lose, they seem to do it in the most painful way possible and you can go ahead and add this game to that list. Justin Herbert led the Chargers to a go-ahead TD in the final two minutes, but the defense couldn’t stop Patrick Mahomes, which ended up being the story of the second half for Los Angeles. The Chargers didn’t force a single punt in the second half and their inability to slow down the Chiefs offense (or stop Travis Kelce) ended up being their doom. The Chargers continue to play second fiddle in a division that is going to be almost impossible for them to win now that they’ve been swept by the Chiefs.

As for the other 20 grades we handed out on Sunday, you can check those out by clicking here.

3. NFL playoff picture heading into Monday night

With the NFL heading into Thanksgiving week, now seems like a good time to take our first extensive look at the playoff picture

Here’s a look at the top seven teams from each conference:

AFC
1. Chiefs (8-2)
2. Dolphins (7-3)
3. Titans (7-3)
4. Ravens (7-3)
5. Bills (7-3)
6. Patriots (6-4)
7. Bengals (6-4)
First teams out: Jets (6-4), Chargers (5-5)

The most notable part of the AFC playoff picture is that the Chiefs might already have the top spot wrapped up. Sure, they haven’t officially clinched anything, and yes, there are still seven weeks to go in the season, but the problem for every other AFC team is that the Chiefs have the EASIEST remaining schedule of any team in the NFL. The Chiefs’ remaining opponents have a winning percentage of just .364. The Ravens have the second-easiest schedule at .366. To that in perspective, every other AFC team has a remaining strength of schedule that’s at .440 or above and the Bengals have the third-most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL at .614. Over the final seven weeks, the Bengals will play EVERY team above them in the AFC playoff standings except for the Dolphins, who they beat back in Week 4. 

NFC 
1. Eagles (9-1)
2. Vikings (8-2)
3. Seahawks (6-4) 
4. Buccaneers (5-5)
5. Cowboys (7-3)
6. Giants (7-3) 
7. 49ers (5-4) 
First teams out: Commanders (6-5), Falcons (5-6)

The Monday night game between the 49ers and Cardinals could have a major impact on the playoff standings. If the 49es lose, they’ll fall out of the seventh spot and the Commanders will jump up and take their place. On the other hand, if the 49ers win, they’ll take over first place in the NFC West, which will vault them all the way up to the third spot. If that happens, the Seahawks will then drop down to the seventh seed.

For a full breakdown of the playoff picture, be sure to click here.  

4. 11 crazy facts from Week 11

Every Sunday night, I get an email from our research department here at CBS Sports, and every Sunday, that email always includes some amazingly wild facts about the games that were just played. 

With that in mind, here are 10 crazy facts about Week 11: 

  • King Cordarrelle sets an NFL record. With a 103-yard kickoff return TD against the Bears, Cordarrelle Patterson now has nine for his career, which is the most in NFL history. Patterson had been tied with Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs for the record, but it now belongs to him alone.  
  • Cowboys boat race the Vikings. The Cowboys’ 40-3 beatdown of the Vikings was the largest road win in franchise history for Dallas. It was also the second-largest home loss ever for the Vikings and the third-largest loss ever by a team that entered a game with a record of 8-1 or better. 
  • House call. The 84-yard punt return TD by the Patriots’ Marcus Jones was the latest go-ahead punt return TD in regulation since 2010 when DeSean Jackson beat the Giants with a punt return as time expired. Jones’ TD was also a big deal because it was the FIRST punt return TD of the entire 2022 season. 
  • Eagles end ugly streak. The Eagles were trailing by double digits (13-3) entering the fourth quarter on Sunday and by winning, they ended a streak of 43 straight games where they had lost when trailing by double digits at the start of the fourth quarter. Before Sunday, the last time the Eagles overcame such a deficit came in 2010 when DeSean Jackson beat the Giants with the Miracle at the Meadowlands, and yup, that’s the same punt return TD we just referred into in our nugget about Marcus Jones. 
  • Steelers finally get a long TD. Najee Harris scored on a 19-yard run against the Bengals, which is notable, because it marked the first time this season that the Steelers had scored a TD of 10 yards or more. The Steelers going 11 weeks without a TD of more than 10 yards was the longest drought to start a season since the Staten Island Stapletons in 1932. 
  • Road warrior. With the Chiefs’ 30-27 win over the Chargers, Patrick Mahomes is now 14-0 in road games against AFC West opponents. That’s the second-longest winning streak by a QB in NFL history, trailing only Joe Montana, who once won 20-consecutive divisional road games. 
  • Field Day. Justin Fields has passed for a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown in five straight games, which is tied with Kyler Murray for the longest streak in the Super Bowl era. Fields also has five straight games with at least 60 yards rushing and a rushing TD, which is the longest streak by a QB in NFL history. Fields rushed for 85 yards and a TD against the Falcons. 
  • Not so super season. Thanks to their 27-20 loss to the Saints, the Rams are now 3-7 on the season, which is tied for the worst start ever by a reigning Super Bowl champion.
  • Cowboys have a new star. Tony Pollard finished with 109 receiving yards, 80 rushing yards and two receiving touchdowns, making him just the fourth player since 1990 with at least 75 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in a single game. Joey Galloway, LaDainian Tomlinson and Todd Gurley are the only other players to pull that off over the past 32 years. 
  • Coming up clutch in overtime. During the Raiders’ 22-16 win over the Broncos, Davante Adams scored his third career overtime TD, which is tied with LaDainian Tomlinson for the most in NFL history. Also, the Raiders’ win means that Derek Carr’s OT record is now 8-2, which gives him the highest winning percentage in OT for any QB that has played in at least 10 overtime games.  
  • Not so clutch in overtime. The loss to the Raiders marked the third time this season that the Broncos have lost in overtime, which is tied for the most in NFL history for a single season. The Broncos are currently tied with the 2010 Bills, 1997 Cardinals, 1983 Packers, 1983 Oilers and 1983 Buccaneers. If the Broncos lose one more OT game over the final seven weeks, they’ll have the record to themselves. 

If you see any other fun facts, feel free to tweet them at me

5. Monday preview: Prepping you for 49ers vs. Cardinals


USA Today

The NFL will be wrapping up its international slate of games tonight with the 49ers and Cardinals kicking off from Mexico City in what will be a “home” game for Arizona. With the Cardinals sitting at 4-6, it feels like they need to win if they want to have any shot of staying relevant in the NFC West, but winning won’t be easy because Kyler Murray is out, which means Colt McCoy will be getting his second straght start. 

My good buddy Jared Dubin wrote our deep-dive preview for this game here at CBSSports.com, and here’s how he sees the game playing out:

  • Why the 49ers can win: The 49ers have plenty of offensive stars — like Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel — and those stars could go off tonight with San Francisco getting ready to face a Cardinals team that has surrendered the third-most points per game in the NFL this season. The 49ers have so many offensive weapons that it’s hard to imagine the Cardinals slowing them all down. If this game turns into a shootout, that will almost certainly favor San Francisco since it feels like the Cardinals won’t have the ammo to keep up. 
  • Why the Cardinals can win: Being forced to start your backup QB in this spot doesn’t seem like an ideal situation, but the same thing happened last year and Colt McCoy actually led Arizona to a 31-17 WIN over the 49ers. McCoy is 3-1 as the Cardinals starting QB dating back to last season and he’s done well because he plays smart football. If he spreads the ball around and doesn’t make any mistakes, he could give the 49ers fits like he did last season when he threw for 249 yards and a touchdown. Even if McCoy plays well though, the Cards will need their defense to play better than it has over the past four weeks, which is a span where Arizona has given up 29 points per game.  

You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here

If you’re thinking about betting on the game, Jordan Dajani put together a full gambling preview (odds via Caesars Sportsbook). You can check out Dajani’s’s full gambling preview by clicking here, but if you don’t feel like clicking over, here’s one prop from both of us for tonight’s game. 

  • ONE PROP JORDAN LIKES: James Conner OVER 49.5 rushing yards (-139): “The 49ers have allowed an average of just 82.7 rushing yards per game this season, which is ranked second in the NFL, but I still like Conner here because this number feels too low. Colt McCoy has started four career games for the Cardinals and in those four games, Conner has averaged 66.5 rushing yards and if he gets near that number, he’d hit the over easily.”
  • ONE PROP I LIKE: Robbie Gould OVER 7.5 points (-115): There have been three games played in Mexico City since 2016 and in those three games, the six kickers involved have averaged 9.4 points per game. The high elevation in Mexico City — it’s 2,000 feet higher than Denver — makes it much easier to kick the ball because the ball travels farther through thinner air. Teams know this and I think it makes them more inclined to attempt field goals, which means more points and more points means this over will hit. 

Finally, if you’re wondering who we’re picking, here’s who we have tonight in a game where the 49ers are currently favored by 10 points.

Dubin’s pick: 49ers 24-10 over Cardinals
Sullivan’s pick: 
49ers 28-18 over Cardinal
My pick: 49ers 34-24 over Cardinals 

The 49ers opened as a 7.5-point favorite, but that number shot up with the news that Kyler Murray wouldn’t play. 

Over on our CBSSports.com picks page, our experts have made a unanimous choice with all eight picking the 49ers to win and cover. 

6. Rapid-fire roundup: Giants battered by injuries

It’s been a  busy weekend in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you. 

  • Giants lose Wan’Dale Robinson for the season. The Giants were already had issues with depth at receiver and those issues have now gotten worse due to the loss of Robinson, who tore his ACL on Sunday and is out for the season. Robinson is one of six Giants players who were knocked out of the game on Sunday. Besides Robinson, that list includes: Adoree’ Jackson (knee), Fabian Moreau (ribs), safety Jason Pinnock (jaw), center Jon Feliciano (neck) and right tackle Tyre Phillips (neck). Jackson is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain, according to NFL.com. It’s not clear how serious the other four injuries are, but with the Giants playing on Thursday this week, it won’t be surprising at all if several of them are forced to miss the game. 
  • Kyle Pitts placed on injured reserve: The Falcons will be without their second-year tight end for at least the next four games after he was placed on injured reserve. Pitts was limited to 24 snaps against the Bears after suffering a knee injury. Pitts has 28 catches for 356 yards and two TDs this season.
  • Odell to visit with two NFC East teams. The NFL receiver is planning his first free agent visits. According to NFL.com, Beckham is planning to visit with both the Cowboys and Giants after Thanksgiving. With those two teams playing each other Thursday, it wouldn’t be surprising if Beckham ends up signing with the team that wins even though the Giants arguably need him more due to the fact that they have almost zero receiving depth right now. 
  • Justin Fields suffers shoulder injury. The Bears quarterback injured his left shoulder late in the game during Chicago’s 27-24 loss to the Falcons. It’s not clear how serious the injury is, but if Fields is out for any significant amount of time, we can probably go ahead and write the Bears off, but that’s only if you haven’t already written them off. 
  • Matthew Stafford knocked out of game. The Rams season keeps going from bad to worse. After missing Week 10 due to a concussion, Stafford returned on Sunday against the Saints only to be knocked out of the game once again. With the Rams sitting at 3-7 and their season spiraling out of control, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Rams decide to shut him down once they’re hopelessly out of the playoff race. 
  • Vikings lose key starter for Thanksgiving. Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw was knocked out of Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys with a concussion and although he eventually cleared protocol, Kevin O’Connell has decided to play it safe. The Vikings coach announced that Darrisaw won’t be playing against the Patriots in a game that will be played on Thursday night. 
  • Patriots could also be missing a key offensive linemen. David Andrews suffered a thigh injury against the Jets, and according to NFL.com, the injury is serious enough that it could end his season. If that’s the case, it would be a brutal loss for a Patriots team that is currently sixth in the AFC playoff race. 
  • Commanders moving forward with Taylor Heinicke. There won’t be a QB controversy in Washington. After watching his team beat the Texans 23-10, Commanders coach Ron Rivera announced that Heinicke would be keeping the starting QB job. With Carson Wentz expected to be healthy enough to play soon, there was some speculation that Washington might turn back to him, but that now won’t be the case. 
  • NFL MVP voting undergoing major change. MVP voters will have a new option this year when they turn in their ballot. Instead of listing just one player, voters will now be able to rank their top-five choices for MVP. This is a major change to the MVP voting format and you can read more about it by clicking here

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