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The Wolf Sports Newsletter: December 19, 2023

An early Merry Christmas to everyone!


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Chargers clean house


⚡️ Following their embarrassing Thursday night loss to the Raiders, the Chargers cleaned house by firing head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco.



  • Staley was hired in 2021 and went 24-24 in the regular season during his two-plus seasons with the team, including 0-1 in the postseason.
  • The analytics-embracing Staley didn’t always have support from his players with some of his odd decision-making, and the wheels really began to fall off for him during and after Los Angeles blew a 27-0 lead over the Jaguars in last season’s Wild Card Round.
  • Telesco had been the Chargers’ general manager since 2013, and they made the playoffs three times during his tenure.
  • The cap space situation for the team is not great (well over the cap in 2024), but the presence of star quarterback Justin Herbert figures to make the Chargers an appealing landing spot for potential coaches and executives.
  • Bill Belichick (if he parts ways with New England) and Jim Harbaugh have been speculated as potential fits to lead the franchise.


Week 14 NFL highlights


Backup quarterback Drew Lock hit rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds remaining to help the Seahawks upset the Eagles to conclude the week on Monday Night Football. Seattle always seems to have crazy Monday night games, and this was no different—with Lock leading the Seahawks on a 92-yard touchdown drive with under two minutes remaining. Philadelphia has lost three consecutive games, and we’ll see if any changes are made on offense after the defense basically demoted defensive coordinator Sean Desai and made Matt Patricia the defensive play-caller.



The Bills defended homefield and demolished the Cowboys, 31-10. The game was even less close than the final score indicates, with Dallas scoring late to cut into the comfortable 31-3 lead for Buffalo. Josh Allen only threw for 94 yards (one touchdown, along with another touchdown on the ground), as James Cook (25 carries, 179 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, two receptions, 42 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown) starred in a run-heavy attack paired with tremendous defense from Sean McDermott’s unit. We’ve been saying it since the offensive coordinator change sparked the team: the Bills are dangerous.



‍⬛ Lamar Jackson and the Ravens handled the Jaguars on Sunday night, with the defense making key stops to hold Jacksonville to seven points. Baltimore ran for 251 yards, but unfortunately they lost dynamic rookie running back Keaton Mitchell (nine carries for 73 yards) to a torn ACL. Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike tied the NFL record for most consecutive games with at least 0.5 sacks (11 games).



The Dolphins obliterated the Jets, 30-0, behind an angry defense that bounced back in a major way from blowing their fourth quarter lead to the Titans a couple of Mondays ago. Bradley Chubb (three sacks) and Brandon Jones (two interceptions) led the way for Miami, and Tua Tagovailoa connected with Jaylen Waddle eight times for 142 yards and a 60-yard touchdown with Tyreek Hill (ankle) out of the lineup. For the Jets, Zach Wilson left the game with a concussion and had zero chance to do anything with the pressure he was under—and you’ve got to feel bad for the situation the former No. 2 pick is in. … The potential return for Aaron Rodgers, who reportedly will astonishingly be medically cleared this week from his torn Achilles, does not look promising with the Jets eliminated from playoff contention.



☠️ The Raiders ended the Chargers’ regime in stunning fashion, beating them 63-21 on Thursday Night Football. Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who was on the verge of being benched, torched LA for four touchdowns; and the Vegas defense scored twice themselves in one of the ugliest games imaginable in the NFL. Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce is now 3-3 through six games, and he told Amazon’s Kaylee Hartung that his halftime message to the team was to “press the gas pedal even harder” while up 42-0.



In the Saturday triple-header consisting of all playoff hopefuls, Jake Browning and the Bengals beat the Vikings in overtime; the Colts erased an early deficit to eventually blowout the Steelers and hand Pittsburgh—set to give Mason Rudolph a shot in Week 16—their third consecutive loss; and Jared Goff threw five touchdowns (three to rookie tight end Sam LaPorta) in the Lions’ 42-17 win over the Broncos.



Other Week 15 games:


  • Saints 24, Giants 6: The New Orleans defense had a throwback type of performance with seven sacks while containing Saquon Barkley and holding Tommy DeVito and company to six points.
  • Buccaneers 34, Packers 20: Baker Mayfield posted the first-ever perfect passer rating for a visiting quarterback at Lambeau Field, throwing four touchdowns to David Moore, Mike Evans, Rachaad White, and Ko Kieft and connecting with Chris Godwin ten times for 155 yards.
  • Chiefs 27, Patriots 17: Receiver play remained largely an issue outside of rookie Rashee Rice, but the Chiefs made enough plays on both sides of the ball end their losing streak at two games.
  • Texans 19, Titans 16 (OT): Starting in place of C.J. Stroud (concussion), Case Keenum led the 8-6 Texans to a critical comeback win in overtime on a 54-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn.
  • 49ers 45, Cardinals 29: Brock Purdy threw four touchdowns and Christian McCaffrey scored three times (tying the NFL record versus a single opponent in a season, with seven touchdowns), and the vibes in San Francisco feel off the charts ahead of a Christmas Night matchup against Baltimore.
  • Rams 28, Commanders 20: The Commanders made a late surge when veteran Jacoby Brissett entered the game for Sam Howell, but the Rams were mostly in control and held on behind big outings from Kyren Williams (27/152/1) and Cooper Kupp (8/111/1).


Top fantasy performers in Week 15


  • 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey: 39.2 points
  • Bills RB James Cook: 31.5 points
  • Lions QB Jared Goff: 31.12 points
  • Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield: 29.04 points
  • Lions TE Sam LaPorta: 26.1 points


(point totals are for half PPR scoring)


More NFL news and notes


The NFL Winter League Meetings took place last week, adding to a news-filled week…


Super Bowl XLI in 2027 will take place at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.



The NFL will play its first-ever game in Brazil next season.


❌ The NFL suspended Steelers safety Damontae Kazee for the rest of the season due to repeated violations of illegal hits following his hit of Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. last Saturday—and Tom Brady is not happy:



The NFL fined Chiefs head coach Andy Reid $100,000 and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes $50,000 for their unfounded criticism of officiating after the Week 14 loss to the Bills.


The Bengals lost key defensive tackle D.J. Reader for the season due to a quad injury, while wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is dealing with a shoulder issue that is expected to force him to miss time.


Lions quarterback Teddy Bridgewater told Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett that he plans to retire after the 2023 season. The former first-round pick of the Vikings in 2014 came back from a devastating leg injury suffered in practice ahead of the 2016 season. The former Louisville star has thrown 75 touchdowns compared to 47 interceptions in his career.



NBC will not have legendary broadcaster Al Michaels call a playoff game this season, according to The New York Post.


Other Sports Updates


UCLA head football coach Chip Kelly is not a fan of conference realignment and thinks college football should operate more like the NFL.



  • Basically, Kelly thinks football should be separate from other college sports and operate with the Power Five schools in a 64-team type of league with divisions and the Group of Five doing something similar.
  • Things would be much more uniform instead of the craziness we’ve seen with realignment—for example, West Coast schools like UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington going to the Big Ten.
  • As Kelly said on ESPN, the schools banding together could create more lucrative television deals, which could be used to help prop up other sports and pay players.
  • Kelly’s stance almost makes too much sense to actually happen in today’s world.


Bowl game results:


  • LA Bowl: UCLA 35, Boise State 22
  • Independence Bowl: Texas Tech 34, California 14
  • Famous Toastery Bowl (OT): Western Kentucky 38, Old Dominion 35
  • New Orleans Bowl: Jacksonville State 34, Louisiana 31
  • Cure Bowl: Appalachian State 13, Miami (OH.) 9
  • New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State 37, New Mexico State 10
  • Myrtle Beach Bowl: Ohio 41, Georgia Southern 21


South Dakota State and Montana will meet in the FCS championship game on Sunday, January 7 after SDSU blew out Albany (59-0) and Montana defeated North Dakota State in a thrilling double overtime contest.



⚾️ The 2023 All-MLB Team has been revealed, headlined by Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr.:



↔️ The Dodgers acquired starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Manuel Margot from the Rays. Glasnow received a five-year, $135 extension from LA following the trade.


The San Francisco Giants signed Korean star Jung Ho Lee to a six-year, $113 million contract.


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