Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I would like to start things off today by apologizing to the NFL. When they decided to change the name of “Wild Card Weekend” to “Super Wild Card Weekend,” I thought it was going to be the one of the three biggest marketing failures, but I was wrong. The name change works and that’s because “Super Wild” is the only way to properly describe what transpired over the weekend.
In a span of 36 hours, we saw:
We’ll be covering all of that, plus more in today’s newsletter, so let’s get to the rundown.
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1. Today’s show: Full recap of Super Wild Card Weekend
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 Super Wild Card Weekend, and let me just say, it’s probably for the best that you listen.
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.
- Winner: Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence. In his first playoff game of his career, Lawrence tripped over his own feet coming out of the gate with FOUR interceptions in the first half, but the Jaguars QB recovered to also throw four touchdowns as the Jags shocked the Chargers 31-30 in a game where Jacksonville trailed 27-0. One reason the Jags were able to pull off the comeback is because Doug Pederson was the much better coach in this game. Not only did the Jags go for it — and convert — on multiple fourth downs, but Pederson also called for a two-point conversion after Jacksonville had cut the lead to 30-26. Most NFL coaches would have gladly taken one point to make it 30-27, but Pederson went for two and the successful try ended up being the difference in the game.
- Loser: Kirk Cousins. The Vikings QB has a reputation for being Captain Checkdown and he took that reputation to a whole new level on Sunday when he checked down on fourth-and-8 on Minnesota’s final offensive play of the game. You absolutely can NOT check down in that situation, but Cousins did it anyway (You can see the play here). You can’t blame Cousins for the Vikings’ loss — they had a disastrous game on defense — but the checkdown is going to be the lasting memory from the game for many fans.
- Winner: Daniel Jones. If the Giants weren’t sure about whether they should keep Daniel Jones, they probably are now after watching him play on Sunday. With 301 passing yards and 78 rushing yards, Jones joined Lamar Jackson and Steve Young as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 70 in a playoff game. Jones played a nearly perfect game, which is a big reason why the Giants were able to pull off the upset.
- Loser: Brandon Staley. It has not been a good two weeks for Staley. Last week, he played his starters in a meaningless game and then watched as one of his key players (Mike Williams) was lost to injury. This week, his team blew a 27-0 lead while allowing the Jaguars to pull off the third-largest comeback in NFL playoff history. It’s hard to be on the hot seat in the NFL after you’ve led your team to two straight winning seasons, but Staley has managed to put himself there.
- Winner: Brock Purdy. If NFL history has shown us one thing, it’s that rookie quarterbacks almost always struggle in the playoffs, but once again, Brock Purdy is bucking the trends. The 49ers rookie became just the fourth playoff QB over the past 72 years to throw for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and a rushing touchdown. No rookie QB has ever made it to the Super Bowl, but it’s starting to feel like Brock might be able to buck that trend too.
- Loser: Tyler Huntley. With just under 12 minutes left to play, it looked like the Ravens were on the verge of pulling off the upset in Cincinnati, but then things got crazy. Huntley tried to jump over the top on a QB sneak from the 1-yard line and he ended up fumbling the ball away and watching the Bengals return it 98 yards for a touchdown. If that play doesn’t happen, it’s very possible the Ravens win, but it did happen, and now the Ravens are going home.
Not only did we go over each game, but we also took a very early look at the divisional round. To listen to today’s episode — and to subscribe to the best daily NFL podcast out there — be sure to click here. You can also WATCH today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Looking at every Super Wild Card game
Since things got so wild over the weekend, we thought it would make sense to at least take a brief look at what happened in each game, so that’s what we’re going to do here.
- 49ers 41-23 over Seahawks. The 49ers got a brief scare from the Seahawks on a day where Seattle jumped out to a 17-16 halftime lead. But in the second half, San Francisco broke the game open with a dominating performance. The biggest play of the game came from Charles Omenihu, who stripped Geno Smith in the third quarter. With the 49ers leading 23-17, the Seahawks drove down to San Francisco’s 19-yard line, but Omenihu’s strip-sack killed the drive and the 49ers rolled from there (You can see the play here). Brock Purdy threw for 332 yards while becoming the first rookie in NFL history to total four touchdowns in a playoff game. (Purdy finished with three passing touchdowns and one rushing score).
- Jaguars 31-30 over Chargers. The Jaguars won this game by pulling off one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history. The Jags fell behind, 27-0, early in the game due in large part to four interceptions from Trevor Lawrence, but the Jags then rebounded to pull off the stunning win, thanks in large part to Lawrence, who threw four touchdown passes. Lawrence went 10 of 24 for 77 yards (and four interceptions) in the first half, but recovered quickly, going 18 of 23 for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
- Bills 34-31 over Dolphins. The Dolphins went into this game as the biggest underdog in the history of the wild-card round (+14) and despite those odds, they were still able to put a major scare into the Bills. In the end, the Bills were able to stave off the upset thanks to Josh Allen (352 passing yards, three touchdowns) and a defense that came up with multiple big plays, including two turnovers, four sacks and a fourth-down stop that iced the game with just 2:30 left to play. Although Allen came up with several big plays, he also let the Dolphins stay in this game with three turnovers, which included two interceptions and a fumble that Miami returned for a touchdown. The Dolphins only had 231 yards of offense, which means they scored the second-most points in playoff history for a team that didn’t hit at least 235 yards of offense.
- Giants 31-24 over Vikings. New York was able to pull off the upset in Minnesota thanks to a historical performance from Daniel Jones, who became the FIRST QB in NFL playoff history to throw for at least 300 and two touchdowns while also adding at least 70 yards on the ground. Not only did Jones throw for 301 yards, but he also was the game’s leading rusher with 78 yards on 17 carries. The Giants also got a surprising performance from Isaiah Hodgins, who caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. That stat line was surprising because Hodgins only had ONE game during the regular season where he even went over 45 yards receiving. The win over Minnesota marked the Giants’ first playoff victory since they beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI back in February 2012.
- Bengals 24-17 over Ravens. The Ravens had Cincinnati on the ropes for most of this game, but the Bengals were able to escape with a win thanks to their defense, which came up with one of the biggest plays in NFL postseason history. With the Ravens at Cincinnati’s 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Tyler Huntley fumbled and Sam Hubbard returned that fumble 98 yards for what ended up being the game-winning touchdown (You can see the crazy play here). Besides that fumble, Huntley actually had a somewhat impressive game with 280 total yards and two touchdown passes, but that one turnover essentially cost the Ravens the game.
If Cowboys-Buccaneers is just half as exciting as the the first five games, then we could be in for a classic on Monday night.
3. 11 crazy facts from Super Wild Card Weekend
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 11 crazy facts from Super Wild Card Weekend:
- Comeback cats. The Jaguars’ 27-point comeback against the Chargers was the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history. It was also the largest comeback in franchise history for the Jags and the biggest blown lead ever for the Chargers.
- Jaguars pull of the impossible. One reason Jacksonville’s win was so stunning is because no NFL team had ever won a game the way the Jags won. The Jaguars were the first team ever to win a playoff game after going minus-five or worse in turnover margin. Before this year, playoff teams were 0-26 in that situation.
- Pick-three. With three interceptions against the Jaguars, Asante Samuel Jr. became the first player in postseason history to pick off three passes in the first half of a playoff game (He’s also the ninth player in NFL history with three interceptions in a playoff game).
- Run, Christian, Run. Christian McCaffrey’s first-ever playoff carry with the 49ers went for 68 yards, which is the second-longest postseason run for the 49ers in the Super Bowl era. The only longer one came from Roger Craig, who had an 80-yard run in 1988.
- Purdy good game. 49ers rookie Brock Purdy threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one more on Saturday, making him the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to total four touchdowns in a postseason game.
- Danny Dimes makes NFL history. New York was able to pull off the upset in Minnesota thanks to a historical performance from Daniel Jones, who became the FIRST QB in NFL playoff history to throw for at least 300 and two touchdowns while also adding at least 70 yards on the ground. Not only did Jones throw for 301 yards, but he was also the game’s leading rusher with 78 yards on 17 carries.
- DK Metcalf has mastered the long ball. The Seahawks receiver caught a 50-yard TD against the 49ers, which means Metcalf now has three career receiving touchdowns of 50 yards or more in the playoffs. That number is tied with Randy Moss for the second-most all-time. The only player with more is John Stallworth, who finished his Hall of Fame career with four.
- Adding a No. 7 seed not working out so well: The NFL added a seventh playoff team in each conference back in 2020, and so far, the decision has been a disaster on the field. With two losses over the weekend, No. 7 seeds are now 0-6 all-time and they’ve been outscored 196-123 (That’s an average score of 32.7 to 20.5).
- Record-setting fumble return. One of the biggest plays of the wild-card round happened in Cincinnati, where Sam Hubbard returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown. That play was the longest fumble return TD in NFL history, the longest Bengals TD in postseason history and the longest go-ahead TD scored in the fourth quarter in NFL playoff history.
- Bills are lighting up the scoreboard. With 34 points against the Dolphins, the Bills have now scored at least 34 points in three straight playoff games, which is tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. The longest streak belongs to the 49ers, who scored at least 34 points in four straight games during the 1993 and 1994 playoffs. The Bills can tie that record on Sunday against the Bengals.
- Joey Franchise breaks another record. Thanks to the Bengals’ win over the Ravens, Joe Burrow now has the most playoff wins by any QB in Bengals history with four. Burrow broke a tie with former NFL MVP Boomer Esiason, who won three during his time in Cincinnati.
If you see any other fun facts, feel free to tweet them at me.
4. Monday preview: Prepping you for Cowboys at Buccaneers
The final game of Super Wild Card Weekend will be going down tonight with the winner earning a trip to San Francisco to take on the 49ers in the divisional round. These two teams played back in Week 1 with the Buccaneers absolutely dominating the Cowboys in a 19-3 win.
Here’s a quick preview of the game: 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 Cowboys can win: For the Cowboys, this game feels like it’s going to come down to how well Dak Prescott plays. Although that feels like an obvious statement with any QB, that’s especially true of Prescott, who has been a turnover machine this year. Prescott LED the NFL lead in interceptions, which made him the first QB in NFL history to miss at least five games and still lead the league in picks. If Prescott can play turnover free football, this feels like a game the Cowboys should win (Dallas was 2-0 this year in games where he didn’t turn the ball over). Protecting Prescott will also be a big deal because the Cowboys are 2-3 this season when he gets sacked two or more times.
- Why the Buccaneers can win: The Buccaneers offense hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard this season, but that could change on Monday night with Tom Brady getting set to face a Cowboys defense that has struggled over the past few weeks. Over their past four games, the Cowboys defense is surrendering 392.8 yards per game, which is a huge jump over the first 13 games of the season, when they allowed just 310.9. If Brady, who has never lost to the Cowboys, can take advantage of a reeling Dallas defense, then that should put the Bucs in a position to win. One thing Brady will have working in his favor is the return of Ryan Jensen. The Bucs center, who suffered a serious knee injury in July, was activated off injured reserve on Monday and could play tonight.
You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here.
Finally, if you’re wondering who we’re picking, here’s who we have tonight in a game where the Cowboys are currently a 2.5-point road favorite:
Dubin’s pick: Buccaneers 27-26 over Cowboys
Tyler Sullivan’s pick: Cowboys 24-21 over Buccaneers
Jordan Dajani’s pick: Cowboys 23-20 over Buccaneers
My pick: Buccaneers 20-17 over Cowboys
Although we’re split here, we are NOT split over on our CBSSports.com picks page, where our experts are surprisingly pro-Buccaneers with six out of eight of them picking Tampa Bay to win.
5. Divisional playoff schedule is out
Even though the wild card round isn’t even over yet, we already know that divisional round schedule and that’s because the NFL announced it on Sunday night. The two teams that got a bye over the weekend — the Chiefs and Eagles — will both be playing on Saturday, with Kansas City hosting the early game and Philadelphia hosting the nightcap.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the playoff schedule for the divisional round.
Saturday, Jan. 21
- (4) Jaguars at (1) Chiefs, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC). After getting a week off, the Chiefs will be opening their postseason run against a Jaguars team that they actually played earlier this season. Back in Week 10, the Chiefs beat the Jags 27-17 in a game where Kansas City jumped out to a 20-0 lead before coasting to the win.
- (6) Giants at (1) Eagles, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox). These two division rivals will be meeting for the third time this season and the Giants will be hoping this game has a different outcome than the first two, which were both won by Philadelphia. This will mark the 25th time in NFL history that a team has swept its division rival in the regular-season and then faced them again in the playoffs. The team that went 2-0 during the regular season has pulled off the three-game sweep 15 out of 24 times.
Sunday, Jan. 22
- (3) Bengals at (2) Bills, 3 p.m. ET (CBS). This game will be played exactly 20 days after their original game was canceled due to the situation involving Damar Hamlin. With Hamlin now back home in Buffalo, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he were to attend this game.
- (5) Cowboys or (4) Buccaneers at (2) 49ers, 6:30 p.m. ET (Fox). The winner of the Monday night game between Dallas and Tampa Bay will be headed to San Francisco. The 49ers didn’t play the Cowboys this year, but they did play the Buccaneers. Back in Week 14, San Francisco absolutely destroyed the Bucs, 35-7
Since we’re always on the ball here, we’ve already got an early preview of the divisional round and you can check that out by clicking here.
Oh, and don’t forget, if the Chiefs and Bills both advance to the AFC Championship, the game will be played at a neutral-site (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta).
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Raiders plan to go after Tom Brady
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.
- Raiders plan to pursue Tom Brady. If the Buccaneers lose tonight, Brady’s time in Tampa Bay could be done and that’s because he’s scheduled to be a free agent. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones has reported that the Raiders plan to “aggressively pursue” Brady this offseason. If Brady were to sign with Las Vegas, it would reunite him with Josh McDaniels, who was in New England for 16 of Brady’s 20 seasons.
- Jeff Bezos hasn’t made a bid on the Commanders yet. The first round of bids for the Commanders were due at the end of December, and apparently, the Amazon founder didn’t place a bid, according to Front Office Sports. This doesn’t mean he won’t end up bidding, but it could also mean he’s not interested in owning an NFL team right now. Bezos is one of the richest people in the world, so if he does end up bidding, he’d likely win, but if he’s out, then it’s anyone’s guess who might win the bidding.
- Commanders giving QB job to Sam Howell. When the Commanders start their offseason workouts, Sam Howell will be listed as the top quarterback on the roster. The Commanders are currently looking for a new offensive coordinator and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reported over the weekend that the team is telling potential candidates that Howell is being viewed as the likely 2023 starter.
- Tua Tagovailoa expected to be back as Dolphins’ starter. With questions swirling about Tua’s future due to his concussion situation, it seems that the Dolphins are still planning to keep him. According to ESPN.com, Tua is expected to return as the team’s starter in 2023.
- Rams to pick up Matthew Stafford’s option bonus. According to ESPN.com, the Rams are expected to pick up Stafford’s option bonus this offseason, which is notable, because it basically locks him to the team for at least two more seasons. Not only does the bonus put $26 million in Stafford’s pocket, but it also guarantees his 2024 salary of $31 million, so it’s now unlikely Stafford will be leaving Los Angeles anytime soon.
- Sean McVay not retiring. After contemplating retirement for nearly a week, McVay has decided to stay on as coach of the Rams. The team announced over the weekend that McVay will definitely be returning for 2023, “Sean McVay informed the team he is excited to return next season,” the team said. McVay is only 36 years old and if he’s already feeling burned out, it’s not crazy to think that he’s likely going to be mulling retirement at the end of each season he coaches going forward.
- Panthers receive permission to talk to Sean Payton. The Sean Payton sweepstakes just added another team. We already knew the Texans, Broncos and Cardinals were involved, but now you can add the Panthers to that list. According to ESPN.com, Carolina has received permission to speak with Payton about its open coaching job.
In other coaching news, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is now the front-runner to land the Texans head coaching job, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reported over the weekend. We’re not going to list every bit of coaching news here, because it would triple the length of the newsletter, but if you want the latest updates on every coaching and GM interview being held this offseason, then be sure to click here so you can follow along in our tracker