Wednesday, January 19, 2022

NFL Week 15 winners and losers, plus grading every team and picks for Raiders-Browns and Vikings-Bears

NFL Week 15 winners and losers, plus grading every team and picks for Raiders-Browns and Vikings-Bears

Here’s everything you need to know about the NFL for Dec. 20

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Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!

This is usually the edition of the newsletter where we rehash Week 15, but Week 15 isn’t even close to over yet. With COVID-19 ravaging multiple rosters around the NFL over the weekend, including the Browns, Rams and Washington, the NFL was forced to postpone three games. 

So does that mean? It means that instead of one Monday game tonight, you’re going to be getting two (Vikings at Bears and Raiders at Browns). Not to mention, we’re also getting TUESDAY FOOTBALL with the Rams hosting the Seahawks and Washington traveling to Philadelphia.

Even though there are still four games left in Week 15, we’re going to be sticking to our normal formula here, which means you’ll be getting some winners and losers today, along with grades and some crazy facts from the weekend. 

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.

1. Today’s show: Week 15 winners and losers, plus full recap

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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 15, and let me just say, it’s probably for the best that you listen. We covered all 10 games from Sunday. We would have covered even more games, but half of them got postponed due to COVID.  

One thing we do every week is hand out our winners and losers from Sunday’s action. For this week’s winners, we had a noticeable NFC-theme going. 

Ryan Wilson

  • Winner: Saints. They beat the Buccaneers and they did it even though they didn’t even have their head coach, who was out due to COVID. Not many teams can say they’ve embarrassed Tom Brady, but the Saints can, and they’ve now done it four times. 
  • Loser: RavensIn two of the past three weeks, they’ve lost because they’ve gone for two in the final minute, and those questionable decisions might keep them out of the playoffs.  

Will Brinson

  • Winner: 49ers. Brinson is probably going to list the 49ers as his winner for the rest of time and that’s because he’s been on their bandwagon since October. Even when this team was 3-5, he kept insisting that they would rebound to make the playoffs and they took one step closer with a big win over the Falcons
  • Loser: Matt Rhule. This team started 3-0, but they’re just 2-9 since then and they seem to be getting worse every week. Rhule keeps flip-flopping his quarterbacks, he got embarrassed by the Bills and things don’t seem to be improving. The Panthers have a lot of questions and Rhule doesn’t seem to have many answers. It will be interesting to see what David Tepper does this offseason. 

John Breech

  • Winner: Jared Goff. Lions players never get listed in our winner’s column, so we’re throwing them a bone here. Goff outplayed Kyler Murray and if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought the Lions were the 10-4 team and the Cardinals were the 2-11-1 team after watching both of them play on Sunday. 
  • Loser: Tom Brady. We don’t ever get to list Brady in the losers column, so I’m going to take advantage of it now. Not only did he get shut out for the first time since 2006, but Sunday night’s loss also marked the FIRST TIME in his career that he was shut out in a home game.   

Not only did we list our winners and losers, but we also recapped every game from Sunday. 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. Week 15 grades: Steelers get an ‘A-‘ for keeping playoff hopes alive

Every week I team up with six of my colleagues here at CBSSports.com to hand out grades, and this week, the Steelers got one of the top grades for their comeback win over the Titans

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

Pittsburgh 19-13 over Tennessee (Click here for full recap)

  • Titans takeaway: The Titans got a huge performance from D’Onta Foreman (108 yards on 22 carries), but it kind of felt like he was the only offensive player who did anything right for Tennessee. The Titans offense kept shooting itself in the foot and just when you thought they were out of bullets, they would shoot themselves in the foot again. There was one especially disastrous sequence in the second half where Tennessee turned the ball over on three straight possessions and the Steelers were able to convert those turnovers into nine points, which is a big reason why the Titans lost. Grade: C-
  • Steelers takeaway: The Steelers offense didn’t do much in this game, but it didn’t need to and that’s because Pittsburgh’s defense and special teams played so well. Not only did the Steelers defense force FOUR turnovers, but it absolutely shut down the Titans in the red zone, holding them to just one TD on four possessions. Although the Steelers offense had trouble putting the ball in the end zone, Chris Boswell made up for it by hitting four field goals. The Steelers’ 168 yards of total offense was the fewest by any team in a win this year. Grade: A-

Texans 30-16 over Jaguars (Click here for full game stats)

  • Texans takeaway: The Texans didn’t play a perfect game, but they seemed to get a big play whenever they needed it. All three of Houston’s touchdowns came from at least 20 yards out, including a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Tremon Smith in the first quarter that gave Houston an early 14-3 lead. Not to be outdone, Brandin Cooks also came up with two monster plays in the form of two touchdown catches that came from 43 and 22 yards. Texans QB Davis Mills continues to look a little bit better every week and David Culley’s decision to start his rookie for the rest of the season is looking like it was the right one. Grade: A-
  • Jaguars takeaway: The Jaguars were a bad team before the arrival of Urban Meyer and it appears they’re still a bad team after the exit of Urban Meyer. The Jaguars’ offense couldn’t convert a third down, their defense couldn’t stop Brandin Cooks and their special teams gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Jaguars were a disaster all around. If anyone was hoping to see some improvement after the firing of Meyer, they’re going to have to wait until at least next week, because that improvement didn’t come this week. Grade: D

As for the other 16 grades we handed out on Sunday, you can check those out by clicking here

3. 11 crazy facts from Week 15

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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 15: 

  • Tom Brady shut out for the first time in 255 games. The Saints’ shutout of the Buccaneers marked the first time since 2006 that Brady’s team has been blanked in a game. It also marked the FIRST TIME in Brady’s career that he was shut out in a home game. 
  • Saints sack master. Cameron Jordan sacked Tom Brady twice, which means he now has 100 sacks for his career. That is notable because it makes New Orleans just the third franchise in NFL history to produce two players who tallied 100 or more sacks (Ricky Jackson also topped the 100-sack mark). The Saints now join the Colts (Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis) and Giants (Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan).
  • Big Ben makes big move on all-time passing list. Although Ben Roethlisberger threw for just 148 yards on Sunday, that was still enough to move him past Philip Rivers into the No. 5 spot on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list. Big Ben now has 63,562 yards for his career, which is more than 100 ahead of Rivers (63,440).
  • T.J. Watt makes Steelers history. The Steelers pass-rusher had 1.5 sacks against the Titans and now has 17.5 this year, which is a new single-season record for the Steelers. Watt also currently leads the NFL in sacks and he could break the NFL single-season record if he averages 1.83 sacks per game over the final three weeks of the season. 
  • 49ers receiver is rushing toward history. Deebo Samuel added another rushing touchdown on Sunday, which means he now has seven on the season. That’s tied with Lenny Moore (1961) and Tony Latone (1925) for the most rushing touchdowns by a receiver in NFL history. 
  • Aaron Rodgers on verge of Packers history. With three TD passes against the Ravens, Rodgers now has 442 for his career, which is tied with Brett Favre for the most in franchise history. If Rodgers throws one in Week 16, he’ll knock Favre out of the top spot. 
  • Packers coach joins rare company. With Green Bay’s win over Baltimore, the Packers now have 11 wins on the season, which is notable, because it makes Matt LaFleur just the third coach since 1970 to win at least 11 games in each of his first three seasons as an NFL head coach, joining Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco, 2011-13) and Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis, 2012-14).
  • Jonathan Taylor keeps scoring. The Colts running back now has a rushing TD in 11 straight games, which is tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history (LaDainian Tomlinson’s 18-game streak is the record). Also, the Colts are now 8-0 this season when Taylor hits the 100-yard mark and 0-6 when he doesn’t. 
  • Lions make history with upset of Cardinals. Detroit’s win over Arizona marked the first time in NFL history that a team with one win or less defeated a team with 10 wins or more by double digits. This was only the third time that a team had won in that situation and it was the first time the team with one win or less won the game by 10 or more points. 
  • Titans control the clock, but lose the game. NFL teams were undefeated this year (10-0) when holding the ball for 39 or more minutes in a game that didn’t go to overtime. The Titans had the ball for 39:08, which makes them the first team to lose when controlling the ball for the that long. NFL teams had been 35-3 dating back to 2018 when holding the ball for 39 minutes or more in a game that was decided in regulation. 
  • Falcons offensive failures. The Falcons became the first team since at least 2000 (as far back as our research goes) to turn the ball over on downs three times inside the opponent’s 10-yard line in one game. The Falcons had three different possessions get inside of San Francisco’s 10-yard line and all three ended with a failed fourth down. During this sequence, the Falcons ran a total of FIVE plays from the 49ers’ 1-yard line, but they were unable to score on any of them

4. Monday preview: Prepping you for Raiders at Browns

Instead of one game tonight, the NFL is giving us two and this will be the first one with kickoff coming at 5 p.m. ET on NFL Network. This game was postponed from Saturday due to the fact that half the Browns’ roster was placed on the COVID list and unfortunately for the Browns, the postponement didn’t do them much good. Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum are both out, which means Nick Mullens will be getting the start. 

This is a huge game for both teams. A Browns win would vault them from the ninth spot in the AFC playoff race all the way up to four, while a Raiders win would put them just one game out of the final wild card spot. 

Bryan DeArdo wrote our deep-dive preview for this game here at CBSSports.com, and here’s how he sees it playing out:

  • Why the Raiders can win: The Raiders are never going to have a bigger advantage in a game than they’re going to have on Monday night. Despite the two-day postponement, the Browns roster is still depleted, which means the postponement actually worked out in the Raiders’ favor: They got two extra days of rest and the Browns didn’t really get any key starters back. On paper, they’re going to have a better team tonight and now they just have to make sure they don’t blow that advantage. 
  • Why the Browns can win: The Browns are going to be down at least 10 starters due to COVID and third-string QB Nick Mullens will be starting the game, but it’s not all dire news for Cleveland. For one, the Browns will have Nick Chubb and if Chubb can have a huge game, that could help the Browns escape this one with a win. The Browns will also have Myles Garrett, who should be able to disrupt almost anything the Raiders try to do on offense. 

You can get a full preview of the game from DeArdo by clicking here. The point spread has been swinging wildly over the past 72 hours. The Browns opened as a 6.5-point favorite, but after their COVID outbreak, the oddsmakers made the Raiders a 3-point favorite. As of noon on Monday, the Raiders were favored by 1.5 points at Caesars Sportsbook. 

DeArdo’s pick: Browns 23-17 over Raiders.

My pick: Browns 23-20 over Raiders. 

5. Monday preview: Prepping you for Vikings at Bears

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No one has talked about postponing this game, but maybe they should, because the Bears had 14 players on the COVID list as of Sunday evening. That depleted roster is now going to have to take on a desperate Vikings team that absolutely needs to win if they want to stay in the playoff race. A win by the Vikings would vault them into the seventh seed in the NFC and they’ll stay there heading into Week 16 as long as the Eagles win on Tuesday. 

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 Vikings can win: The Bears placed cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safety Tashaun Gipson on the COVID list over the weekend and with those two out, that means their entire starting secondary could be out on Monday night. If that’s the case, look for Kirk Cousins to take advantage of that by airing it out. If Minnesota is successful at throwing the ball early, this game could get ugly for the Bears. 
  • Why the Bears can win: If Justin Fields is being pressured all night, there’s almost no way the Bears are going to win, which means they need to try to take some pressure off of him by getting their ground game going. Basically, this means Chicago needs to get David Montgomery involved early and often. If Montgomery has a huge game, the Bears might be able to pull off the upset.

You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here. The Vikings are currently favored by 6.5 points and as you can see below, Dubin and I actually agree on who’s going to win the game, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

Dubin’s pick: Vikings 23-13 over Bears.

My pick: Vikings 27-20 over Bears.

If you’re thinking about betting on the game, Tyler Sullivan put together a full gambling preview. 

  • ONE PROP TYLER LIKES: Dalvin Cook OVER 16.5 receiving yards (-110): “Cook has gone over this mark in his last four games played and is averaging nearly five targets per game over that stretch.”
  • ONE PROP I LIKE: Greg Joseph OVER 1.5 field goals (-115): No one loves to kick field goals more than Mike Zimmer. Joseph has gone over this total in four of Minnesota’s past five a games and seven of its past nine. The Bears don’t exactly have a high-powered offense, so it won’t be surprising at all to see Zimmer settle for field goals tonight. 

You can check out Sullivan’s full gambling preview by clicking here.

6. Rapid-fire roundup

It was 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: 

  • NFL makes more changes to COVID protocols. The biggest change this time around is that fully vaccinated, asymptomatic players won’t have to test weekly anymore. The NFL is now doing targeting testing, which means vaccinated players will only be tested if they’re showing symptoms. This means a player who doesn’t want to miss a game could try to hide his symptoms. For more details on the new policy, be sure to click here
  • Chris Godwin out for the rest of regular season. The Buccaneers receiver suffered an MCL sprain on Sunday night, which will knock him out for the final three weeks of the season. The upside for the Buccaneers is that although they’re losing Godwin, they will be getting Antonio Brown back this week. 
  • Vikings cut starting corner after practice altercation. The Vikings won’t have starting corner Bashaud Breeland on Monday night and that’s because they released him following a bizarre altercation at a practice on Saturday. According to NFL.com, Breeland “got into a verbal altercation today at practice with coaches, took off his cleats and got into it with multiple teammates who were trying to calm the situation.”
  • Teddy Bridgewater taken to hospital. The Broncos QB was hospitalized on Sunday after suffering a concussion during Denver’s loss to the Bengals. According to the team, Bridgewater was kept at the hospital overnight as a precaution. The QB was then sent home on Monday and appears to be doing well. 
  • Urban Meyer gives first public interview since firing, was fired for cause. In his first interview since his firing, Meyer apologized to the city of Jacksonville. You can read more about his interview by clicking here. Unfortunately for Meyer, that apology probably isn’t going to get him back the millions the Jags are trying not to pay him. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on Sunday that the Jags view this as a “For cause” firing and if the law agrees, then the Jags won’t owe Meyer the remainder of his contract (They could also eventually work out a settlement). 
  • Lawrence Taylor arrested in Florida for sex offender violation. The Pro Football Hall of Famer is facing two felony charges for failing to alert authorities to a change in address. Lawrence is required to report his address changes following a case in January 2011 where he pleaded guilty to charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. 

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