Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
I don't have the official newsletter record book in front of me, but this might go down as the longest newsletter in Pick Six history. I didn't do that on purpose, but that's what happens when we get 24 hours of absolute craziness in the NFL.
Here's what has happened since yesterday:
- The Packers choked their way out of the playoffs
- The Texans choked away the No. 1 pick by not choking against the Colts (and then fired Lovie Smith)
- The Cardinals fired Kliff Kingsbury
- The Browns fired their defensive coordinator
- The playoff schedule came out and it somehow included the Jaguars. I repeat, the Jaguars are in the playoffs. That is not a typo.
We'll be covering all of those things, plus plenty more in today's newsletter, so without further ado, let's get to the rundown.
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 18 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 18, 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: Damar Hamlin and Nyheim Hines. On a day where Damar Hamlin was honored by every NFL team, Nyheim Hines might have been the one who honored him the most. Sunday marked the Bills' first game since Hamlin's injury and Hines started things off by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown against the Patriots, which sent Bills fans and players into a frenzy. Hamlin even celebrated the play from his hospital room. Hines then outdid himself by getting a SECOND kick return touchdown later in the game, which the Bills won 35-23.
- Loser: Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy. This team is falling apart at the wrong time. With their starters playing on Sunday, the Cowboys got embarrassed by the Commanders in a 26-6 loss. When you get embarrassed by the Commanders, you know things are going wrong. One problem for Dallas has been Prescott, who keeps throwing interceptions. The Cowboys QB finished the season tied for the league lead in interceptions even though he missed five games due to injury.
- Winner: Pete Caroll and Dan Campbell. The Seahawks kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Rams 19-16 in overtime in one of the wildest games of Week 18. After that, all they needed was a Lions win and Dan Campbell's team came through. Carroll is here because the Seahawks made the playoffs in their first season without Russell Wilson and Campbell is here because he got his team fired up to play even though they were already eliminated from the playoffs by the time Sunday night's game kicked off.
- Loser: Brandon Staley. The Chargers had absolutely nothing to play for on Sunday and Staley still decided to play his starters. It's one thing to let them play for a quarter or two, but Staley kept them in until the fourth quarter and that decision backfired as the Chargers suffered multiple injuries. Mike Williams suffered back spasms and Joey Bosa may have re-injured his groin and there's no guarantee that either player will be ready for Saturday's game against Jacksonville.
- Winner: Lovie Smith. It might seem odd that I have Lovie listed as a winner considering he just got fired, but he gets to leave a dysfunctional organization and he ended his career in Houston with a wild win that guaranteed the Texans won't be getting the No. 1 overall pick. Any time you can screw someone over who's about to fire you, you have to do it.
- Loser: Aaron Rodgers. The Packers QB threw away any chance his team had of winning on Sunday when he was picked off by the Lions on Green Bay's final offensive possession. The loss had an eerie resemblance to Brett Favre's final game with the Packers -- Favre also through a game-sealing interception with his final pass -- which I'm only bringing up because this could end up being Rodgers' final game. During his postgame press conference, Rodgers didn't rule out the possibility that he might be done in Green Bay and he also refused to give his jersey away after the game. Jameson Williams asked if he could have the QB's jersey, but Rodgers shot him down, "I'm gonna hold on to this one." I think this means Aaron Rodgers retirement watch is officially on.
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. NFL playoff schedule is out
The NFL playoffs are finally here and if you like rematches, then you're definitely going to love what the NFL has in store for the wild card round.
All six games from the opening round will feature a rematch from the regular season, marking just the fifth time since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 that every opening round game has been a rematch. Before this year, the last time it had happened came in 2009.
With that in mind, here's a look at the schedule for the wild card round:
Saturday, Jan. 14
- (7) Seahawks at (2) 49ers (-10), 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox). These two division rivals have played each other twice this year and the 49ers defense shut down the Seahawks each time. Back in Week 2, the Niners beat the Seahawks 27-7. San Francisco followed that up with a 21-13 win in Week 15. The only thing that might be working in Seattle's favor is the fact that rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle in the playoffs, going 9-18 since 1983.
- (5) Chargers at (4) Jaguars (+1.5), 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC). This is a rematch of one of the most surprising games of the year. Back in Week 3, the Jaguars destroyed the Chargers 38-10 on the road. Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdowns on a day where the Jags put up 413 yards of total offense.
Sunday, Jan. 15
- (7) Dolphins at (2) Bills (-10), 1 p.m. ET (CBS). These two teams split their season series with each team winning at home, but it's worth keeping in mind that both game were decided by three points or less. The big question here revolves around who will be starting at quarterback for the Dolphins. Right now, Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) and Teddy Bridgewater (finger) are both banged up. If they can't go, Skyler Thompson will get the start.
- (6) Giants at (3) Vikings (-3), 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox). These two played one of the wildest games of the season on Christmas Eve in a matchup that wasn't decided until Greg Joseph hit a 61-yard field goal on the final play. This will be Minnesota's first home playoff game since the Minneapolis Miracle in January 2018.
- (6) Ravens at (3) Bengals (-6.5), 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC). It's not clear if Lamar Jackson (knee) is going to play on Sunday, but even if he does, it will mark his first action in six weeks if he's on the field. Jackson did lead the Ravens to a 19-17 win over the Bengals back in Week 5, but the Bengals got their revenge with a 27-16 win in Week 18 to get a split of the season series.
Monday, Jan. 16
- (5) Cowboys at (4) Buccaneers (+3), 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN). If the Cowboys are going to advance to the divisional round, they're going to have to do something they've never done: Beat Tom Brady. The Cowboys are 0-7 all-time against the Buccaneers QB and that includes a Week 1 loss where Tampa Bay topped Dallas 19-3.
The Eagles and Chiefs also made the playoffs, but they both got a first-round bye, so they won't be on the field until the divisional round.
3. Ranking the playoff teams: Chiefs on top
As you've probably noticed, we love to rank things here at CBS Sports so in news that probably won't come as a huge surprise, we decided to rank this year's playoff field. There are a total of 14 teams and based on Cody Benjamin's rankings, things are pretty top-heavy in the AFC with that conference earning the top two spots.
Here's how Cody's rankings broke down:
1. Chiefs (14-3)
2. Bills (13-3)
3. 49ers (13-4)
4. Bengals (12-4)
5. Eagles (14-3)
6. Ravens (10-7)
7. Buccaneers (8-9)
8. Vikings (13-4)
9. Cowboys (12-5)
10. Chargers (10-7)
11. Giants (9-7-1)
12. Jaguars (9-8)
13. Seahawks (9-8)
14. Dolphins (9-8)
If you want to read Cody's entire rankings, be sure to click here. If you're an Eagles fan who wants to complain to Cody about Philadelphia's ranking, you can find him on Twitter by clicking here. I feel like the Ravens might be ranked slightly too high considering their QB situation is a mess right now, but overall, I like the rankings here and it feels like one of the teams in Cody's top-five will end up winning it all.
4. 12 crazy facts from Week 18
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 18:
- Wild-card round is all rematches. All six games in the wild-card round will be a rematch from the regular season, marking the first time that's happened since 2009 and just the fifth time overall that we've seen that happen since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 (1992, 1994, 2004 and 2009 are the others).
- Buccaneers in playoffs with losing record. The Buccaneers' 30-17 loss to the Falcons dropped them to 8-9 on the season, which means Tampa Bay is now just the sixth team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. No team with a losing record has ever made it past the divisional round. To find out who the other teams with losing record fared, be sure to click here.
- Worst-to-first. The Jaguars went from having the worst record in the NFL last year to winning their division this year, making them just the fifth team since 1970 to pull off that feat. The Jags join the 1975 Colts, the 1998 Colts, the 2003 Chargers and the 2008 Dolphins.
- Florida teams on fire. The Buccaneers, Jaguars and Dolphins all made the playoffs this season, marking the first time since 1999 that all three Florida teams have made the postseason. The Jags and Bucs both made it to the conference title game that year, but they both ended up losing.
- Kickoff return king. On the first play since Damar Hamlin's injury, Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against the Patriots. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Bills returned the opening kickoff for a TD in a home game. Hines then added another kickoff return TD in the second half, making him the first player since 2010 to get two kickoff return touchdowns in one game. Hines is also the first player in NFL history to have a game with two punt-return touchdowns and a game with two kickoff-return touchdowns in his career.
- Tom Brady breaks two major NFL records. The Buccaneers quarterback went 13 of 17 against the Falcons before being benched, which means he finished the season with 490 completions and 736 pass attempts, which are both NFL records.
- Titans rookie breaks 82-year-old NFL record. After holding the NFL punting average record for more than 80 years, Sammy Baugh has finally been knocked out of the record book. Titans rookie punter Ryan Stonehouse averaged 53.1 yards per punt this season, smashing Baugh's old record of 51.4 by almost two yards. Baugh's record had stood since 1940.
- Purdy good. Brock Purdy threw three touchdowns against the Cardinals, meaning he now has multiple touchdown passes in five straight games. That makes Purdy just the third QB in NFL history to pull that off in his first five starts, joining Dan Marino and Billy Volek.
- 49ers beat up on everyone. Every team that played the 49ers this season lost the following week. The Raiders played the 49ers in Week 17 and then lost to the Chiefs in Week 18, which means that the 49ers' opponents went 0-15 this season the week after facing San Francisco.
- Bears drafting first. The Texans' miraculous win over the Colts means the Bears will have the top pick in the NFL Draft this year. If you can't remember the last time they had the first overall pick, it's probably because you weren't alive. The last time it happened came in 1947 when they selected Bob Fenimore, who only played one NFL season.
- Steelers on historical streak. The Steelers' win over the Browns means they'll finish the season at 9-8. That marks the 16th straight season under Mike Tomlin that the Steelers have finished .500 or better and the 19th consecutive season overall. The Steelers' streak is tied for the second-longest in NFL history, trailing only the Cowboys, who had a streak of 21 straight seasons of finishing .500 or better from 1965 to 1985.
- Chiefs' domination of Raiders continues. The Chiefs have scored 28 points or more in 10 straight games against the Raiders, which is tied for the longest streak in any matchup all-time. The only other time this happened came between 1949 and 1953 when the Rams did it 10 straight times against the Packers, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
If you see any other fun facts, feel free to tweet them at me.
5. Coaching carousel has started: Kliff Kingsbury and Lovie Smith both get canned
There's a reason the day after the regular season is known as "Black Monday" around the NFL and that's because it's the one day every year where at least one head coach gets fired and this year is no exception.
The NFL season ended less than 24 hours ago and there has already been two firings with Kliff Kingsbury getting canned by the Cardinals and Lovie Smith getting the axe in Houston. Here's a quick look at the current job openings and who those teams might be interested in:
- Cardinals: There had been speculation over the weekend that the Cardinals might blow things up and start over this offseason and that now appears to be their plan. The team has decided to fire Kliff Kingsbury less than 12 months after signing him to a long-term extension that was supposed to go through the 2027 season, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones has reported. Although Kingsbury led the Cards to the playoffs last year, his teams were notorious for fading down the stretch. In 2022, Kingsbury led the Cards to a 4-13 record, which was the franchise's second-worst mark in 18 years. Not helping Kingsbury's cause is the fact there also seemed by be some friction with Kyler Murray. The Cards also won't have Steve Keim, who stepped down as general manager, which means this team will be getting a total reboot for 2023.
- Texans: Last year, the Texans fired David Culley after just one season, and this year, they've decided to do the same with Lovie Smith. The Texans coach was fired on Sunday night, less than six hours after he boldly decided to go for two in the final minute of a game against the Colts that ultimately cost the Texans the No. 1 overall pick. Some early names being tossed around as potential candidates to replace Smith are Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. The Texans could also turn to Josh McCown, who they thought about hiring last year before turning to Smith.
- Broncos: The Broncos haven't wasted any time getting interviews lined up for their coaching job. The team has already talked to Sean Payton and they plan on interviewing the former Saints coach as soon as they're allowed to (an interview can't take place until Jan. 17). The Broncos have rich owners and if they feel like Payton is good fit, they'll likely throw a lot of money at him. To land Payton, the Broncos will likely have to trade a first-round pick to the Saints, and although that's a steep price, it likely won't stop the Broncos from getting Payton if that's ultimately who they want. Denver also has requested an interview with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. On the college front, the Broncos also plan to interview Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh at some this week, according to PFT. Denver is clearly swinging for the fences with this hire.
- Panthers: The Panthers are going to be busy this week as they continue to look for a permanent replacement for Matt Rhule, who was fired in October. The Panthers are expected to interview Frank Reich this week, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. Reich was fired by the Colts in November. The team is also set to hold an interview with Jim Caldwell today, CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson has reported. Caldwell will be looking to land his first head coaching job since being fired by the Lions in 2017.
- Colts: It's been all quiet on the Colts' front so far. The team doesn't have any reported interviews lined up just yet and that could be because everyone is assuming that Jim Irsay plans on giving the job to Jeff Saturday. If Irsay does hire Saturday, he's going to have to do a good job of selling that to a Colts fan base that just watched Saturday close the season with a 1-7 record.
- Browns: The Browns didn't fire their head coach, but they did find an end-of-season scapegoat in defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who was let go on Monday morning. Woods came to Cleveland when Kevin Stefanski was hired in 2020. One issue for the Browns' defense this year is that it simply couldn't stop the run. The Browns were one of just eight teams that surrendered more than 135 yards per game on the ground.
By the time you read this newsletter, there could be another firing or two added to this list, so be sure to follow our coaching tracker by clicking here. Also, in other defensive coordinator news, Atlanta's Dean Pees has informed the team that he's retiring.
6. NFL Draft order: Top 18 picks are set after wild Week 18 where Texans lose No. 1 pick with stunning win
One of the most dramatic games on Sunday came in Houston, where the Texans shocked the Colts 32-31. The Texans scored with just 50 seconds left to cut Indy's lead to 31-30 and then Houston WENT FOR THE WIN. The decision was crazy because they ended up converting, meaning the decision to go for two ended up costing them the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Houston's win opened the door for the Bears to get the top pick with a loss and Chicago gladly took advantage of that.
Besides the Bears, the Eagles are the other big winner because not only did they get the top seed in the NFC, but they also will be getting a top-10 pick in the 2023 Draft thanks to a draft day trade they made with the Saints last April.
With that in mind, here is the official order for the top 18 spots in the draft:
1. Bears (3-14)
2. Texans (3-13-1)
3. Cardinals (4-13)
4. Colts (4-12-1)
5. Seahawks (9-8) (via 5-12 Broncos)
6. Lions (8-9) (via 5-12 Rams)
7. Raiders (6-11)
8. Falcons (7-10)
9. Panthers (7-10)
10. Eagles (14-3) (via 7-10 Saints)
11. Titans (7-10)
12. Texans (3-13-1) (via 7-10 Browns)
13. Jets (7-10)
14. Patriots (8-9)
15. Packers (8-9)
16. Commanders (8-8-1)
17. Steelers (9-8)
18. Lions (9-8)
Now that the Bears have the No. 1 overall pick, you might be wondering that they'll do with it and we have the answer right here in Ryan Wilson's latest mock draft, so be sure to click over. As for the rest of the draft order, we won't know where the other 14 teams fall until they get eliminated from the postseason.