Welcome to the Monday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
There have been nine weeks so far this NFL season and all nine of them have been crazy. I’m going to have to talk to my doctor about getting some heart medication if I’m going to survive the next nine weeks.
Here’s just a small sample of the craziness so far: We have a 4-5 team in first place (Buccaneers), we have a 4-5 team in last place (Commanders), Aaron Rodgers looks like he has forgotten how to play football and the Jets are good. I’ll be honest, I thought we’d see talking cats before the Jets would ever be good again.
Also, we’ve now seen two coaches fired and we’re not even to Week 10 yet.
We’ll be covering everything about Week 9 in today’s newsletter plus making some picks for tonight’s game, so let’s get to the rundown.
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1. Today’s show: Week 9 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 9, and let me just say, it’s probably for the best that you listen. We covered all 11 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.
- Winner: Justin Fields. The Bears didn’t win, but Justin Fields made the winner’s list because he’s starting to look like a star quarterback. Not only did Fields throw three TD passes in Chicago’s 35-32 loss to the Dolphins, but he rushed for 178 yards, which is the single-game record for a QB in a regular season game.
- Loser: The entire Colts organization. They need to blow the entire thing up and start over. It’s hard to say what the worst thing was about their 26-3 loss to the Patriots: Not converting a single third down (0-for-14), giving up nine sacks, giving up a pick-six or the fact that the Patriots blocked a punt. It was all bad.
- Winner: Tom Brady. For once, something is going right for Tom Brady. With Tampa Bay’s season on the line, Brady responded with an improbable game-winning drive that we’ll cover in more detail later.
- Loser: Aaron Rodgers. Just when you think the Packers season can’t get any worse, it gets worse. Not only did Green Bay lose 15-9 to the Lions, but the loss can mostly be pinned on Rodgers, who threw three ugly interceptions.
- Winner: Zach Wilson. Wilson didn’t exactly put up eye-popping numbers against the Bills (154 passing yards, one TD), but the Jets won 20-17 and that’s all that matters because it means that people will start talking about Wilson’s on-field play instead of whether he might have hit on his neighbor’s mom.
- Loser: Kliff and Kyler. This relationship seems like a divorce waiting to happen. Murray and Kingsbury haven’t been on the same page all season and although the return of DeAndre Hopkins was supposed to make the offense better, it definitely didn’t look much better during Arizona’s 31-21 loss to the Seahawks.
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 9 grades: Packers get a ‘D’ for embarrassing loss
Every week I team up with six of my colleagues here at CBSSports.com to hand out grades, and this week, the Packers came close to failing out of our imaginary football school.
Here’s a look at the grades from two notable games that were played Sunday:
Lions 15-9 over Packers (Click here for full recap)
- Packers grade: D. The Packers defense played well enough to win, but the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. Aaron Rodgers threw three interceptions and those picks were extra painful because they all came near or in the end zone. The Packers seemed to melt down any time they got near the red zone. They drove inside of Detroit’s 20-yard line four different times in this game, but only came away with three total points. The Lions went into Week 9 surrendering more points per game than any other team in the NFL and if the Packers can’t score points on them, I’m starting to think they might not be able to score points on anyone.
- Lions grade: B. The Lions didn’t come close to playing perfect football — they had two failed fourth downs and Jared Goff threw two interceptions — but they probably felt pretty perfect after pulling off this upset. The reason the Lions were able to walk away with a win is because the much-maligned defense kept coming up with big plays. Kerby Joseph was arguably the hero of the game: The rookie safety came up with two interceptions and batted a ball down that likely would have been a TD. The Lions also stopped the Packers on three different fourth-down conversions. This is a feisty Lions team that will probably win a few more games this season.
- Panthers grade: F. It’s not even worth talking about how bad the Panthers were, but trust me, they were bad. The offense was bad (they didn’t record a first down until just before halftime), the defense was bad (they surrendered 35 points in the first half) and somehow, the only bright spot for Carolina was Baker Mayfield, who threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns after P.J. Walker was benched at halftime.
- Bengals grade: A+. Less than a week after getting embarrassed in a Monday night loss, the Bengals looked like a completely different team. With Ja’Marr Chase still out, the Bengals decided to rely a little bit more on their ground game and Joe Mixon came through with a monster performance. Not only did the Bengals running back rush for 153 yards and FOUR touchdowns, but he also had 58 receiving yards and one touchdown. Overall, the Bengals rushed for 241 yards, which was the team’s third-highest total since 2005. This game so out of hand that the Bengals had more points (35) than the Panthers had yardage (32) at halftime. This game felt like a statement by the Bengals offense that it can still be explosive without Chase.
As for the other 18 grades we handed out on Sunday,.
3. Colts fire Frank Reich
It’s not often that a coach gets fired when his team is in second place, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday with Frank Reich. Less than 24 hours after an embarrassing 26-3 loss to the Patriots, Colts owner Jim Irsay decided to hand Reich his pink slip.
Here’s a look at why the firing went down:
- Jim Irsay has a change of heart. Less than two weeks ago, Irsay said he was in a “great spot” with Reich, but the Colts have been so bad over the past two weeks that it clearly changed his mind. Irsay was at the game on Sunday and watched firsthand as the Colts were only able to muster 121 yards of total offense, which is the lowest by any NFL team this year and the lowest for the Colts since 1997.
- Reich couldn’t get his QB situation figured out. Reich was hired by the Colts in 2018 and during his four and a half seasons as coach, he had SEVEN different starting quarterbacks: Philip Rivers (11-5), Andrew Luck (10-6), Carson Wentz (9-8), Matt Ryan (3-3-1), Jacoby Brissett (7-8), Sam Ehlinger (0-2) and Brian Hoyer (0-1). The costliest mistake on this list was Ryan. The Colts thought he was going to be able to turn the franchise around, but instead, the offense sputtered with Ryan under center. Reich made the decision to bench Ryan for Sam Ehlinger two weeks ago and unfortunately for him, the offense only went from bad to worse. Reich and the Colts just never recovered from Luck’s shocking decision to retire in August 2019.
- Reich’s time in Indy wasn’t a total failure. Despite the revolving door at QB, Reich still managed to go 40-33-1 during his time with the Colts. Reich has to coach the roster he’s given and clearly, Chris Ballard also hasn’t been doing enough. The Colts went to the playoffs twice in four years under Reich and finished with a winning record in three of his four full seasons.
- Reich will be getting a nice going away package. The Colts coach signed an extension in August 2021 that was supposed to keep him in Indy through the 2026 season. Now that he’s been fired, he’ll be able to collect on that contract for the next four years unless he takes a new job. According to one report, Reich will get at least $9 million per season from the Colts.
- Jeff Saturday named interim coach. The five-time Pro Bowl center, who played with the Colts from 1999-2011, was named interim coach by Irsay.
The firing of Reich comes just six days after the firing of offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, so it won’t be surprising if the Colts can a few more people before the end of the season. In a twist, the Colts will be at the Raiders on Sunday, which is interesting, because Josh McDaniels turned down the Colts’ coaching job in 2018, which led to Reich getting it.
4. 11 crazy facts from Week 9
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 about Week 9:
- Field Day. The Bears didn’t win on Sunday, but Justin Fields did set an NFL record. Not only did Fields set the record for most rushing yards by a QB in a regular season game with 178, but he also became the first player in NFL history with three TD passes and at least 140 rushing yards in a game.
- Bear down. With 252 rushing yards against the Dolphins, the Bears have now hit the 225-yard mark in four straight games making them one of only two teams that have accomplished that feat in the Super Bowl era (The 1976 Steelers are the other).
- Uh-oh Aaron. The Packers’ 15-9 loss to the Lions marked the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career where he threw multiple interceptions in the red zone. Rodgers also became the first quarterback this century to throw a red zone interception on the first two drives of the game. You want more ugly? This was Rodgers first multi-interception game against a division rival since 2013.
- Tyreek is unstoppable. With 143 yards against the Bears, Hills now has 1,104 receiving yards on the season, which is the NFL record for the most yards by a player through his first nine games with a team. Hill broke the record of Bobby Mitchell, who had 972 yards in 1962 in his first nine games with Washington.
- Ekeler threatening to break a dual threat record. Austin Ekeler scored a rushing TD and a receiving TD during the Chargers‘ 20-17 win over the Falcons, marking the 10th time in his career that he’s had at least one rushing TD and one receiving TD in a game. That ties him with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara for the most all-time through a player’s first six seasons.
- Melting down with McDaniels. Since the first year of the franchise in 1960, the Raiders have only lost a total of eight times in any game where they’re leading by at least 17 points. The unfortunate part for the Raiders is that three of those eight losses have come this year, including Sunday’s game against the Jaguars where the Raiders led 20-3 before losing 27-20. That’s three blown leads in eight games, which is insane when you consider that they had only done that five times over 61 years.
- Jaguars make rare comeback. One other embarrassing thing about the Raiders loss is that they blew a lead against a team that rarely ever makes big comebacks. Going into Sunday, the Jaguars were 1-116 all-time in any game where they trailed by at least 17 points. That record is now 2-116 after they beat the Raiders.
- Final score fun: There were a total of four games that ended with a 20-17 final score on Sunday, which is notable, because it marked the first time in the Super Bowl era that where four games finished with the same final score in the same week (via ESPN Stats and Info)
- Monster game from Mixon. During the Bengals 42-21 win over the Dolphins, Mixon became the third player in Super Bowl era with four rushing touchdowns and one receiving TD in a single-game (Shaun Alexander and Jonathan Taylor are the other two who pulled that off). MIxon is also the first player since 2013 (Jamaal Charles) with four touchdowns in a single half. Mixon had more touchdowns in the first half than the Panthers had completions (3).
- Keeping up with the Joneses. New England’s Jonathan Jones had a pick-six AND a blocked punt in the same game, making him just the third player this century and first since 2010 to pull off that feat. The only other two players to accomplish the feat since 2000 are Chad Williams (2002) and Patrick Chung (2010).
- Chargers hit rock bottom in the first quarter. The Chargers fell behind 10-0 against that Falcons, making them just the third team in NFL history trail by double-digits in the first quarter of four straight games. They join the 1962-63 Broncos and 1988 Buccaneers. The good news for the Chargers is that they were able to win despite falling in the early hole.
If you see any other fun facts, feel free to tweet them at me.
For the second time in two weeks, we’re getting Andy Dalton in primetime, which isn’t great news for Dalton, who has a 6-19 career record as a starter in primetime. If the’s going to improve upon that, he’s going to have beat a quarterback who almost never loses to NFC teams. Since taking over the starting QB job in Baltimore in 2018, Lamar Jackson is 13-1 against the NFC.
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 Ravens can win: With most of Baltimore’s offense banged up — Rashod Bateman is out for the year, Mark Andrews won’t be playing and Gus Edwards is doubtful for tonight — this game is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Lamar Jackson. Of course, that’s how it is most weeks with this team, but it’s especially true this week. The Ravens are also likely going to need especially big games from both Devin Duvernay and Isaiah Likely.
- Why the Saints can win: One of the Saints biggest weapons is Alvin Kamara and if he goes off, there’s a good chance New Orleans is going to win. Kamara has played four games with Andy Dalton this year and in each of those four games, he’s totaled at least 100 yards from scrimmage. If he crosses that number again tonight, there’s a good chance the Saints will come away with a win.
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, 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: Lamar Jackson OVER 60.5 interceptions (-104): “With the Ravens limited at the skill positions, their best chance of pulling off chunk plays could come by utilizing Jackson’s legs, which is why the over feels like a good play here. Jackson is averaging 76.6 rushing yards per game since Week 2.”
- ONE PROP I LIKE: Justin Tucker OVER 1.5 field goals (-142): If Justin Tucker is playing in a primetime game, I’m almost always going to take the over on his field goal total. Not only do the Ravens love utilizing Tucker, but he’s hit at least two field goals in five straight games, which makes him feel like an extremely safe bet here.
Finally, if you’re wondering who we’re picking, here’s who we have tonight in a game where the Bengals are currently favored by three points:
Dubin’s pick: Ravens 21-17 over Saints
Sullivan’s pick: Ravens 27-23 over Saints
My pick: Saints 23-20 over Ravns
Over on our CBSSports.com picks page, our eight experts are split on this game with four taking the Saints and four taking the Ravens.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Packers defensive star out for season
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.
- Rashan Gary tears ACL against Lions. The Packers are already in trouble, and now, they could be even more . The pass-rusher tore his ACL against the Lions and losing him is huge, considering he’s the team’s top pass-rusher. Through nine weeks, Gary was leading the team with six sacks.
- Panthers fire more coaches. Less than 24 hours after getting steamrolled by the Bengals, the Panthers responded by firing two assistant coaches. Cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni were following the 42-21 blowout loss.
- Giants safety out for multiple weeks. Xavier McKinney is apparently going to miss multiple weeks after injuring himself during New York’s bye week. The starting safety announced on Twitter that he injured his hand while riding an ATV in Mexico over the weekend and the injury is expected to sideline him for several weeks.
- Cowboys plan to go after Odell. It looks like we have a surprise contender in the race to see who signs Odell Beckham. According to NFL.com, the Cowboys are eyeing Beckham and will likely make a play for him once he’s ready to sign.
- NFL teams hoping to get trade deadline pushed back at least two weeks. This year gave us one of the craziest trade deadlines in NFL history and it could get even crazier going forward. According to ESPN.com, some teams want to see the deadline moved to Week 10 or Week 12, which would spice things up because teams with no chance at making the playoffs would almost certainly be more likely to trade players away.
7. Bonus: Details on Tom Brady’s improbable game-winning drive
Tom Brady has pulled off a lot of NFL comebacks in his career, but not many of them were as unlikely as the one that he engineered on Sunday. With the Buccaneers trailing 13-9 and just 44 seconds left to play, the Bucs looked to be left for dead, but then Brady happened.
Let’s take a look at how improbable the comeback was and what records Brady set while pulling it off:
- Brady does the impossible. With 44 seconds left to play, the Buccaneers got the ball back at their own 40-yard line, which meant that Brady had to go 60 yards with no timeouts if Tampa Bay was going to win. Brady then immediately proceeded to go 5-of-6 for 54 yards on the game-winning drive and the only incompletion was a spiked ball to stop the clock. His most impressive throw was his first one, which was a 28-yarder to Cade Otton that gave the Bucs life.
- Why the actual TD was so unexpected. The game-winning pass was a one-yard throw to Otton and it was a shocker because it was Brady’s FIRST TD pass to a tight end this entire season. Also, it was the second-latest game-winning touchdown pass of Brady’s career (nine seconds left). The only one that beat that came in 2013 when he threw a game-winning TD to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds left against the Saints. If you want to see Brady’s entire game-winning drive in a 2-minute clip, then be sure to click here. Brady threw 58 passes against the Rams, which is tied for the third-highest total of his career.
- Comeback kid. The win over the Rams marked the 55th game-winning drive for Brady, which is the most in NFL history. Brady had been in a tie with Peyton Manning for the most-ever, but now, he has the record to himself.
- Brady hits 100K passing yards. With a throw in the fourth quarter, Brady , which might end up going down as one of his most unbreakable records (He currently has 100,116). Brady’s number is absurd when you consider that only one other QB has even thrown for 80,000 yards and no other QB in NFL history has even hit 86,000.
After watching the Buccaneers lose five of their past six games, Brady was clearly thrilled after this victory and he showed his jubilation by dropping an F-bomb in his postgame press conference (You can check out the censored version of Brady’s comments by clicking here)