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Home / frontsports / The Wolf Sports Newsletter: December 12, 2023

The Wolf Sports Newsletter: December 12, 2023


Another fun week of NFL action, the Heisman Trophy ceremony, a close Army-Navy Game, and more highlight this week’s edition of The Wolf Sports Newsletter.

 

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Week 14 NFL highlights

 

The Bills held on for a much-needed road win against the Chiefs, 20-17, behind a 14-0 start from Josh Allen, James Cook, and the offense. Buffalo’s defense came up with a key stop when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had a chance to tie the game or go ahead. The Bills are now at 7-6, and the win came after a week where head coach Sean McDermott was under fire for seriously misplaced words during a team meeting in 2019—but it’s clear the team has his back. Allen’s Bills are now 3-0 at Arrowhead during the regular season—but 0-2 in the playoffs including the all-time classic “13 seconds” game.

 

 

‍♂️ Unfortunately, complaints from Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and the Chiefs became a bigger story than the huge win for Buffalo. On the final drive on a play where Travis Kelce lateraled it to Kadarius Toney for the go-ahead touchdown, the score was wiped out due to Toney lining up offsides. Mahomes threw a total fit and disappointingly was crying to Allen about the call in their postgame handshake—but he did come to his senses a bit and said he definitely felt bad for the way he acted with Allen postgame; so, we can probably chalk it up to a temporary lapse in judgement. Reid’s behavior was almost as head-scratching, with the longtime head coach somehow calling the offsides call “a bit embarrassing” for the NFL. Many have pointed out that the Chiefs have arguably been on the right side of officiating more than any team in recent years.

 

 

The Cowboys stayed hot, handling the Eagles on Sunday night to answer questions about whether they could continue playing at a high level versus tougher competition. Dallas moves to tied for first-place in the NFC East, but Philadelphia would win the division if they win out against a soft schedule on paper. For the Eagles, the defense has struggled mightily this season—and the offense didn’t play close to well enough the past two weeks to make up for it. The 49ers were certainly thrilled with the outcome, as they are now in possession of the top seed in the NFC.

 

 

✈️ Taking on the playoff-hopeful Texans, the Jets ended their losing skid behind a tremendous performance from Zach Wilson (27/36, 301 yards, two touchdowns) in wet conditions at MetLife Stadium. Wilson was confidently throwing dots all over the field, including a number of off-platform throws. Between this outing and the way he played on Sunday night against the Chiefs in October, the former No. 2 pick has had a couple of major flash games in a tough situation. Wilson came into the week freer, and Jets cornerback D.J. Reed told ESPN’s Rich Cimini said Wilson comically told him “what’s the worst that can happen, I get benched again?”

 

 

‍⬛ Tylan Wallace returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown in overtime to lift the Ravens to a 37-31 victory versus the Rams. Lamar Jackson totaled 386 yards (316 passing, 70 rushing) and three passing touchdowns (one to former Ram Odell Beckham Jr.) in the shootout, but the Baltimore defense was surprisingly attacked on both the ground and through the air by Los Angeles. Still, the Ravens improved to 10-3 as they look to get the top seed in the AFC.

 

 

‍☠️ Baker Mayfield hit Cade Otton for a game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining as the Buccaneers defeated the Falcons in a key NFC South battle, 29-25. Atlanta put up 434 yards on the banged-up Tampa Bay defense, but Todd Bowles’ squad found a way to win to get in a tie for first in the NFC South with the Falcons and the Saints also at 6-7.

 

 

⭐️ Brock Purdy and the 49ers stayed hot, beating the Seahawks with big contributions from Christian McCaffrey (153 total yards), Deebo Samuel (one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown while becoming the second player in NFL history with 100+ receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, and one rushing touchdown in consecutive games), and George Kittle (76 yards, one touchdown). Purdy joined Joe Montana (1989), Drew Brees (2016), and Sam Bradford (2016) as the fourth quarterback in NFL history to complete over 70% of his passes in seven consecutive games within a season.

 

 

Other Week 14 games:

 

  • Patriots 21, Steelers 18: Bill Belichick’s defense played another outstanding game, and the offense finally did enough with three touchdown passes by Bailey Zappe and a stellar game from Ezekiel Elliott (29 touches, 140 yards, one touchdown). Pittsburgh (7-6) has dropped two straight to two-win teams when many expected them to be at 9-4 right now.
  • Saints 28, Panthers 6: The Saints blocked a punt for a touchdown and beat up Bryce Young (four sacks). New Orleans is banged up, but they host the Giants this Sunday while looking to get back to .500.
  • Bengals 34, Colts 14: Jake Browning again operated the Cincy offense like Joe Burrow would, and his 79.3% completion percentage is the highest since 1950 in a quarterback’s first three career starts. The Bengals remain a serious threat for a postseason spot in the AFC.
  • Browns 31, Jaguars 27: Jacksonville’s defense struggled for the second consecutive game, and Browns quarterback Joe Flacco earned the starting role for the rest of the season after 311 yards and three touchdowns (two to tight end David Njoku) for Kevin Stefanski’s club.
  • Bears 28, Lions 13: Similar to the first matchup but with no late comeback by the Lions this time around, the Bears continue to play solid football and are now 5-4 in their past nine games under Matt Eberflus.
  • Vikings 3, Raiders 0: Tying the record for lowest-scoring win in NFL history, the Vikings won by the same score as the NHL’s Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Nick Mullens entered the game for Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, and Justin Jefferson left the game with a chest injury in his first game since early October, so we’ll have to keep an eye on those things ahead of Week 15.
  • Broncos 24, Chargers 7: After playing through a finger injury on his left hand, Justin Herbert suffered a fractured finger on his right throwing hand and looks set to miss the rest of the season for the disappointing 5-8 Chargers. Russell Wilson played another strong game, and Denver’s defense recorded six sacks in the win.
  • Giants 24, Packers 22: Saquon Barkley scored twice and undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito played very well to help the Giants upset Green Bay on a game-winning field goal by Randy Bullock as time expired.
  • Titans 28, Dolphins 27: The Titans concluded a crazy Week 14 and a thrilling Monday night doubleheader with a stunning comeback down 28-13 with under three minutes remaining. They are the first team since 2016 to win while being down 14 with under three minutes. Derrick Henry scored twice in the victory.

 

Top fantasy performers in Week 14

 

  • Ravens QB Lamar Jackson: 31.64 points
  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel: 30.5 points
  • Jaguars TE Evan Engram: 27.0 points
  • Falcons QB Desmond Ridder: 25.38 points
  • Bears QB Justin Fields: 24.72 points

 

(point totals are for half PPR scoring)

 

NFL injury news and other notes

 

“Music City Miracle” legend Frank Wychek has passed away at 52.

 

More big injuries have unfortunately struck the past couple of weeks:

 

  • As mentioned, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert fractured his right index finger. He’s out for Thursday night against the Raiders and his status for the rest of the year is uncertain.
  • Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (chest) was injured while going up for a high pass versus Vegas.
  • Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson’s injury from Week 13 is a high-ankle sprain.
  • Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk (core muscle) had surgery and is out for the regular season, with a shot to return deep in the playoffs.
  • Browns offensive tackle Dawand Jones (knee) is out for the season after tweaking his knee in practice last week, ending a promising rookie campaign for the fourth-round pick out of Ohio State.

 

Kicker Robbie Gould has retired from the NFL after 18 NFL seasons. The former Bear, Giant, and 49er was 29-of-29 in his postseason career, and he was an All-Pro for Chicago in 2006.

 

 

The Browns extended safety Grant Delpit with a three-year, $36 million contract.

 

❌ Colts defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad has been suspended six games for violating the NFL’s PED policy.

 

Other Sports Updates

 

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels won the 2023 Heisman Trophy.

 

 

Army got a goal-line stop on fourth-and-goal to beat Navy in the Army-Navy Game, 17-11.

 

 

Patriots head coach and Navy football supporter Bill Belichick appeared on ESPN’s College GameDay to pick the Midshipmen while taking a page out of Lee Corso’s playbook.

 

 

Former Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani is remaining in Los Angeles—signing with the Dodgers for ten years, $700 million. The $700 million deal is the largest in sports history.

 

⚾️ And the Yankees acquired superstar outfielder Juan Soto from the Padres.

 

 

➡️ Former UCF and Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel has transferred to Oregon.

 

In the FCS playoffs, the final four is set:

 

  • No. 1 South Dakota State vs. No. 5 Albany (Friday 12/15, 7:00 PM ET)
  • North Dakota State vs. No. 2 Montana (Saturday, 12/16, 4:30 PM ET)

 

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