Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
This isn't just any Monday though: It's the FINAL Monday of 2022. To celebrate that fact, we're going to list 2,022 reasons why you should watch the Monday night game between the Chargers and Colts. Just kidding. I don't have to time to write that and you don't have time to read that, so we're going to do what we normally do around here on Mondays: We're going to hand out some grades, name some winners and losers, and make some picks for tonight's game.
We'll also be breaking down a playoff picture that has suddenly gotten very interesting, especially in both the AFC and NFC South divisions. While you're reading this newsletter, I will be bandaging my thumb since I accidentally stabbed myself with a pair of scissors while putting together one of my 2-year-old daughter's Christmas presents. I hope your Christmas went better than that.
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. Getting your friends signed up is a great way to help them start 2023 off on the right foot.
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. We covered all 14 games from the weekend, 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.
- Winner: Franco Harris night. It wasn't quite the Immaculate Reception, but on a night where the Steelers honored Franco Harris, they came away with an improbable 13-10 win over the Raiders. It was fitting that the magical win happened on the same day the Steelers retired Harris' jersey.
- Loser: Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins' winless December ended on a sour note and it was all thanks to Tua, who threw THREE fourth quarter interceptions in a 26-20 loss to the Packers. Tua was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL through the first three months of the season, but he's completely fallen apart since Dec. 1.
- Winner: Brock Purdy. The 49ers rookie is an unstoppable machine. There are only two quarterbacks in NFL history who have thrown multiple touchdown passes while recording a QB rating of at least 100 in their first three starts and Purdy is one of them (Dan Marino is the other). With San Francisco's 37-20 win over Washington, Purdy became the first 49ers QB in franchise history to win his first three starts. The next thing up on Purdy's plate: Try and become the first rookie QB to lead his team to the Super Bowl.
- Loser: The Titans. Back on Nov. 26, the 7-3 Titans had a four-game lead on the 3-7 Jaguars, but that lead has now completely melted away. All the Titans had to do to stay in first place this week was beat the worst team in the NFL (Texans) and they couldn't even do that. If you can't beat the worst team in the NFL, that might mean that you're the worst team in the NFL.
- Winner: Greg Joseph and the Vikings. Every week, it seems like the Vikings are going to lose, and every week, they somehow find a way to pull out a miraculous win. This week, the Vikings needed a 61-yard field goal from Joseph to top the Giants 27-24. The field goal was the longest in franchise history by five yards. The only thing this team hasn't done this season is win on a Hail Mary, but knowing the Vikings, that will probably happen this week.
- Loser: Nathaniel Hackett. I'm not saying the Broncos gave up on him, but it kind of looked that way on Sunday. The Broncos owners clearly feel the same way, which is probably why they decided to fire him today.
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 16 grades: Detroit lands a 'D' for ugly loss, Dolphins get a 'C-' for loss to Packers
Every week I team up with six of my colleagues here at CBSSports.com to hand out grades, and this week, we almost failed the Lions and we weren't overly impressed with the Dolphins, who almost lost to the Packers.
Here's a look at the grades from two notable games that were played Sunday:
Panthers 37-23 over Lions (Click here for full recap)
- Lions grade: D. Everyone on the Lions defense probably got a lump of coal in their stocking after their performance in this game. The Lions got absolutely run over by a Panthers rushing attack that totaled 320 yards, which marks the most the Lions have given up in a game since 1998. With the defense struggling, the Lions needed a big game from Jared Goff and the offense to stay in this, but the offense sputtered for the better part of three quarters before getting a few garbage-time scores. The Lions (7-8) were one of the hottest teams in the NFL heading into Week 16, but they seemed to fold under the pressure of actually being in a playoff race.
- Panthers grade: A. If the Panthers have proven one thing this year, it's that if they can run the ball on you, they're going to win and they were able to run the ball on the Lions. Thanks to D'Onta Foreman (165 yards) and Chuba Hubbard (125 yards), the Panthers were able to pile up a franchise-record 320 rushing yards and they're now 5-0 this season when they rush for 170 yards or more. The Panthers also set a franchise record with 570 total yards, which broke the old record of 548 set in 2017. The Panthers (6-9) are the hottest team in the NFC South right now and it feels like the division title is now within reach. All Carolina has to do to take home the division title is win its final two games (at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans).
Packers 26-20 over Dolphins (Click here for full recap)
- Packers grade: B+. The Packers defense might have just saved Green Bay's season. After falling behind 20-10 in Miami, the Packers were able to claw their way back into this game thanks to a defense that forced four turnovers on Miami's final five possessions while also shutting out the Dolphins in the second half. Although the defense struggled at times to slow down the Dolphins' speedy receivers, the unit did come up with three fourth quarter interceptions that helped seal the game. Offensively, the Packers weren't overly impressive, but Aaron Rodgers got them in scoring position often enough that Mason Crosby was able to hit four field goals. The Packers' playoff hopes were on life support going into Week 16, but now they're very much alive following this win.
- Dolphins grade: C-. No team will be happier to see December end than the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins totally imploded during the month of December with an 0-4 record and their Christmas loss to the Packers might have been the worst of those four losses. The problem for Miami is that Tua Tagovailoa suffered a total meltdown with THREE interceptions in the fourth quarter. Those picks led to six points for Green Bay and proved to be the difference in the game. Tua's nightmare fourth quarter overshadowed impressive performances from both Jaylen Waddle (five catches, 143 yards, 1 TD) and Tyreek Hill (four catches, 103 yards). This loss wasn't all on Tua though. Raheem Mostert also lost a fumble and Jason Sanders missed a 48-yard field goal. With four straight losses, the Dolphins better get things figured out soon or they could end up missing the playoffs.
As for the other 24 grades we handed out over the weekend, you can check those out by clicking here.
3. NFL playoff picture heading into Monday night
With the NFL season coming down to the home stretch, now seems like a good time to take an extensive look at the playoff picture heading into Monday's game.
Here's a look at the top seven teams from each conference (any team with an asterisk next to its name has clinched a playoff spot)
1. Bills (12-3)*
2. Chiefs (12-3)*
3. Bengals (11-4)*
4. Jaguars (7-8)
5. Ravens (10-5)*
6. Chargers (8-6)
7. Dolphins (8-7)
First teams out (in order): Patriots (7-8), Jets (7-8), Steelers (7-8)
Still in the AFC South race: Titans (7-8)
The most notable part of the AFC playoff race is that the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS are now in first place in the AFC South. The bizarre part of the AFC South race is that both teams can actually REST their starters this week because their Week 17 games won't have any bearing on the AFC South race. The Jaguars and Titans play each other in Week 18 and no matter what happens this week, that game will be for the division title.
As for tonight's game, the Chargers can officially clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Colts. If that happens, the Chargers will be headed to the postseason for just the second time since 2014.
1. Eagles (13-2)*
2. Vikings (12-3)*
3. 49ers (11-4)*
4. Buccaneers (7-8)
5. Cowboys (11-4)*
6. Giants (8-6-1)
7. Commanders (7-7-1)
First teams out (in order): Seahawks (7-8), Lions (7-8), Packers (7-8)
Still in the NFC South race: Panthers (6-9), Saints (6-9)
The biggest winner of Week 16 was the Packers and that's because everything that needed to happen for them to stay alive in the playoff race actually happened. With the Commanders, Seahawks and Lions all losing, the door is now open for Green Bay to steal a playoff spot. For that to happen, the Packers just need to win out (they play the Vikings and Lions) and then they need the Commanders to lose one of their final two games (Browns, Cowboys) OR for the Giants to lose both of their remaining games (Colts, Eagles).
As for the NFC South, the Buccaneers can wrap that up in Week 17 with a win over the Panthers. However, if Carolina wins, then the division will be wide open heading into Week 18 with the Panthers, Buccaneers and possibly even the Saints still alive for the division title.
If your favorite team is currently out of the playoff race, then you probably don't care about the playoff picture, and if you're in that camp we have something else for you: A mock draft! You can check out Ryan Wilson's latest one by clicking here.
4. Broncos fire Nathaniel Hackett
As an NFL coach, it's not easy to get fired before you even finish your first year on the job, but that's exactly what happened to Nathaniel Hackett today. Less than 24 hours after the Broncos' disastrous 51-14 loss to the Rams, the team decided to let him go.
Here's a look at a few reasons why the Broncos made the move:
- Hackett was only the coach for 16 weeks, but his short time in Denver was an unmitigated disaster. The Broncos went 4-11 under Hackett, a record that might have been better with a more experienced coach on the sideline. Of Denver's 11 losses, eight of them came by one score and many of them came because of bad decisions made by Hackett.
- The biggest issue for Hackett is that he couldn't get his offense to work with Russell Wilson. The Broncos have a lot of money invested in Wilson, but he never seemed comfortable running Hackett's offense. Through Week 16, the Broncos ranked last in points per game, last in third-down percentage and 26th in yards per game. By any metric, the Broncos' offense was a total failure this year.
- Hackett now becomes just the sixth coach over the past 10 years to get fired after one season or less on the job. The Broncos coach joins a group that includes Mike Mularkey in 2013 (Jaguars), Rob Chudzinski in 2015 (Browns), Jim Tomsula in 2015 (49ers), Chip Kelly in 2016 (49ers): Steve Wilks in 2018 (Cardinals) and Urban Meyer in 2021 (Jaguars).
It will be interesting to see what the Broncos go from here, but the guess is that they end up hiring another offensive-minded coach, because if this team is going to find any success going forward, someone has to figure out how to fix Russell Wilson. The QB has a contract that ties him to the Broncos through the 2028 season, and from a financial perspective, they're stuck with him through at least the 2025 season, which means the new coach will have to figure out a way to make things work with Wilson as the quarterback.
5. Monday preview: Prepping you for Chargers at Colts
There might not be a lot of reasons to watch tonight if you're a Colts fan, but Chargers fans will definitely want to be watching and that's because Los Angeles could clinch a playoff berth with a win. After missing the playoffs last year thanks to a soul-crushing loss to the Raiders in Week 18, the Chargers can officially put that behind them and give Justin Herbert his first postseason appearance by simply beating the Colts.
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 Chargers can win: The Chargers have a high-powered offense and the Colts don't, which means if L.A. can turn this into a shootout, then the Chargers should walk away with the win. The Chargers should be able to put up some points and that's because their top offensive skill players are finally healthy with Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both expected to play (They've only been on the field together for 15.6% of the Chargers' offensive snaps this year). If the Chargers can score more than 20 points, that should be enough to win against a Colts team that has only topped the 20-point mark three times in 14 games (The Chargers have topped it eight times in 14 games).
- Why the Colts can win: If the Chargers have proven one thing this year, it's that they can't stop the run. The Chargers are surrendering 5.3 yards per carry this season, which is the second-worst number in the NFL AND they're also giving up an average of 145.6 yards per game on the ground this year, which is the sixth-worst number. Basically, the Colts should be able to run the ball and if they can get their run game going, that should take some pressure off of Nick Foles while giving Indy a fighting chance to win this game.
You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here.
If you're thinking about betting on the game, Tyler Sullivan put together a full gambling preview (odds via Caesars Sportsbook). You can check out Sullivan'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 TYLER LIKES: Zack Moss OVER 13.5 rushing attempts (-133): "Jeff Saturday noted that the Colts will roll with a rotation out of the backfield in the wake of Jonathan Taylor landing on IR. Moss will certainly factor into that rotation and is coming off a game in Week 15 where he carried the ball a career-high 24 times. With Foles under center, Indy will likely look to try and win this game on the ground, especially with the Chargers allowing 5.3 rushing yards per attempt, which is the second-worst number in the NFL."
- ONE PROP I LIKE: Cameron Dicker OVER 1.5 field goals (-119): Dicker has been the Chargers kicker for eight games this year and he's gone OVER this total in six of those games. Also, teams love kicking field goals against the Colts. Indy's opponents are averaging 2.5 field goal attempts per game against the Colts this year, which is tied for the highest number in the NFL. .
Finally, if you're wondering who we're picking, here's who we have tonight in a game where the Chargers are currently favored by four points:
Dubin's pick: Chargers 27-13 over Colts
Sullivan's pick: Chargers 27-21 over Colts
My pick: Chargers 27-23 over Colts
I swear, we didn't all agree to have the Chargers scoring 27 points in our prediction, it just happened that way.
Over on our CBSSports.com picks page, all eight of our experts are picking the Chargers to win and cover.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Jets turning back to Mike White, Commanders might have a QB controversy on their hands
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.
- Jets turning back to Mike White. After missing the past two games due to injury, Mike White will be getting his job back this week. According to multiple reports, White has been cleared to play against the Seahawks on Sunday. White had been out since suffering a rib injury against the Bills in Week 16.
- Jets expected to move on from Zach Wilson. With White getting the starting job back, it now seems that the writing is on the wall for Wilson. The Jets QB has played so badly this season that the team is ready to give up on him. According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Jets are expected to move on from Wilson his offseason. Wilson was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and as bad as he's been, you almost never see a team give up on a pick that high after just two seasons.
- Commanders might have a QB controversy. Taylor Heinicke got benched for Carson Wentz during Washington's 37-20 loss and there's no guarantee he'll be getting his job back. Ron Rivera wouldn't commit to a starter following the loss to the 49ers, "It's not going to be a knee-jerk," Rivera said, NBCSports Washington. "It's going to be something, at the end of the day, I really do believe gives us the best chance to win football games, get into the playoffs and see what happens." The Commanders host the Browns this weekend and if they end up losing, they could be eliminated from the playoff race.
- Jalen Hurts might not be back this week. The Eagles QB missed Saturday's loss to the Cowboys with a shoulder injury and there's no guarantee he's going to be back for this week's game against the Saints. According to ESPN.com, Hurts' status is "uncertain" for Week 17. Nick Sirianni said Saturday that if Hurts is ready to go, then he'll play, but no one knows right now if he'll actually be ready to go. The Eagles just need to win one of their final two games to clinch the top seed in the NFC and the first-round bye that comes with it
- NFL uses flex scheduling powers for Week 17. The Sunday night showdown for Week 17 was supposed to be Rams-Chargers, but that game has now been given the boot. Instead, the NFL is moving Steelers at Ravens into the Sunday night slot. The Rams-Chargers game has been moved to 4:25 p.m. ET.
- Bengals starting tackle out for the season. The Bengals offensive line took a huge hit over the weekend with the loss of La'el Collins. The right tackle tore his ACL against the Patriots and will now miss the rest of the season.
BONUS: 12 crazy facts from Week 16
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 12 crazy facts about Week 16:
- One-score wonders. With their 27-24 win over the Giants, the Vikings are now 11-0 in one-score games this season, which is the most one-score wins by a team in a single season in NFL history.
- Big kick. The 61-yard game-winning field goal by Minnesota's Greg Joseph was tied for the fourth-longest game-winning kick with no time remaining in NFL history. Only Justin Tucker (66), Tom Dempsey (63) and Matt Bryant (62) have hit longer.
- Randy Moss gets Moss'd. With 133 yards against the Giants, Justin Jefferson now has 1,756 for the season, which moves him past Randy Moss (1,632 in 2003) for the most receiving yards in a single season in Vikings history. Jefferson also had his 24th career game with 100 receiving yards or more, which is the most by any player in NFL through their first four seasons. That's extra impressive because Jefferson is only in his third season.
- Panthers keep pounding. Chuba Hubbard (109 rush yards) and D'Onta Foreman (104 rush yards) are the first pair of teammates to each rush for 100 yards or more in the first half of a game in more than 15 years (The last pair to do it was Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jaguars in 2006). Carolina rushed for 240 yards in the first half on Sunday, the third-most rushing yards in a first half over the past 40 years. Only the Bills (254 rushing yards in 1992) and Jaguars (251 in 2006) have had more. The Panthers' 320-yard rushing total was also the highest in franchise history.
- Houston can't stop Derrick Henry. The Titans running back rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown against the Texans, making him the first player in NFL history with 100 rush yards and at least one rushing TD in five consecutive games against a single opponent. Of course, Henry's performance didn't actually help as the Texans ended up winning 19-14.
- Mr. December. Aaron Rodgers is going to be sad to see December go, and that's because he's undefeated during the month with Matt LaFleur. Since the Packers coach was hired in 2019, Rodgers has gone 15-0 in December, which includes Sunday's Christmas win over the Dolphins.
- Sacked lunch. The Eagles sacked Dak Prescott six times, marking their fourth straight game with at least six sacks. The streak is tied with the 1976 San Franciso 49ers for the longest of the Super Bowl era.
- Josh Allen is an unstoppable dual threat. With two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in Buffalo's 35-13 win over the Bears, Allen now has 25 career games with at least one passing TD and one rushing TD. That's tied for the fourth-most in NFL history, trailing only Cam Newton (45), Steve Young (31) and Aaron Rodgers (30).
- Chiefs keep winning. With their 24-10 win over the Seahawks, the Chiefs (12-5) have won at least 12 games for the fifth straight season, which is the third-longest streak in NFL history. Only the Patriots (2010-17) and Colts (2003-09) have had longer streaks.
- Hot first half for Joe Burrow. The Bengals quarterback finished with 28 completions in the first half against the Patriots, which is the most by a QB in a first half since Tony Romo in 2007. Joe Burrow also has thrown a TD pass in 22 consecutive games, which is the longest streak in Bengals history.
- Bitter cold. The NFL had eight games that kicked off with a temperature below freezing on Saturday, which was a record for a single day. The Panthers played their coldest home game in franchise history (20 degrees at kickoff), which was a 37-23 win over the Lions. The Ravens also had their coldest home game in franchise history (17 degrees), a 17-9 win over the Falcons. Not to be outdone, the Seahawks dealt with a temperature (12 degrees) that was the coldest in franchise history for any regular-season game. The Saints also played their coldest game in franchise history (6 degrees).
- Patriots player is the next primetime. With a pick-six against the Bengals, Marcus Jones is the first player since 1947 to have a punt return touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a pick-six in the same season (Bill Dudley and Tommy Harmon were the last players to pull this off). The only other player in the Super Bowl era to score a touchdown of 40 yards or more in each of those three ways over their ENTIRE career was Deion "Primetime" Sanders and Jones has done it in ONE season.
- Bengals and Patriots give us a scorigami. The Bengals 22-18 win over the Patriots was notable, because it gave us a scorigami, which is when a final score happens for the first time in NFL history. The 22-18 final was the third scorigami of the year and the 1,075th different final score in NFL history.
If you see any other fun facts, feel free to tweet them at me