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The Wolf Sports Newsletter: December 5, 2023

December is here, which means it’s crunch time in the NFL and college bowl season!


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Week 13 NFL highlights


In a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, Brock Purdy threw four touchdowns as the 49ers rolled against the Eagles, 42-19. After two straight three-and-outs to start the game, San Francisco scored 14 points in each of the final three quarters behind strong performances from the entire offense, including Deebo Samuel (three touchdowns).



The Niners-Eagles matchup came after months of trash talk and debate in the aftermath of San Francisco losing Purdy and backup quarterback Josh Johnson during the playoff loss. Things were heated throughout the rematch, including a disappointing situation where 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw and Eagles head of security “Big Dom” DiSandro were both ejected. DiSandro is facing potential discipline from the league; 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was not happy, and Nick Sirianni appeared to apologize in the post-game handshake.



Bengals quarterback Jake Browning looked excellent in his second career start, going 32/37 for 354 yards and a touchdown while adding another score in the ground in the Monday night overtime win at the Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence left with an ankle injury after getting stepped on and twisting very awkwardly, and it did not look good—but the team is awaiting test results after X-rays were thankfully negative. Cincy is among the teams in the AFC playoff picture at 6-6.



Jordan Love (267 yards, three touchdowns) and the Packers stayed hot by defending Lambeau Field versus Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday night. Officiating was shaky on both sides in the end, but Green Bay made key stops while the KC offense again struggled late. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur moves to an insane 16-0 in December in his career. Green Bay has won three straight and is in playoff position in the NFC at 6-6, but we’ll have to keep an eye on the status of second-year receiver Christian Watson (two touchdowns versus the Chiefs) and his hamstring injury.



Dak Prescott’s scorching-hot streak continued by leading the Cowboys to a 41-35 Thursday Night Football win over the Seahawks. The Cowboys defense uncharacteristically struggled at home, but they got a stop when it mattered most and set up big-time matchup with the Eagles this Sunday night. DK Metcalf had three touchdowns in the loss for Seattle and hit the fastest MPH of any ball-carrier this season, and head coach Pete Carroll was understandably not happy with officiating in the game (an unfortunate theme throughout the league in recent years).



The Texans defense held strong with a game-sealing interception by Jimmie Ward to end the Broncos’ five-game winning streak and get a key win of teams battling for playoff position in the AFC. Derek Stingley Jr. picked off two passes while Will Anderson Jr. recorded two sacks for the young Texans. Unfortunately, Houston lost star rookie receiver Tank Dell, who has an excellent rapport with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, for the year due to a fractured fibula.



Other Week 13 games:


  • Colts 31, Titans 28 (OT): A wild overtime game with two blocked punts (including one for a touchdown) by Indy was capped by a game-winner from Gardner Minshew to Michael Pittman Jr. as a response to a field-goal drive by Tennessee. Derrick Henry started December with his casual 100+ yards and two touchdowns, but it’s unfortunate that the Titans drop to 4-8.
  • Falcons 13, Jets 8: The Jets offense continues to be unable to do anything, and (if reports are to be believed) it sounds like the team realizes Zach Wilson clearly gives them the best chance to win despite the offense struggling—but that Wilson might not want to be thrown back into the fire with his eye likely on a better situation in 2024. Atlanta doesn’t mind the grind-it-out style of play and is atop the NFC South at 6-6.
  • Lions 33, Saints 28: Detroit jumped out to a stunningly quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and they held off a strong comeback attempt by the Saints, who unfortunately have quarterback Derek Carr in the concussion protocol for the second time in a month. David Montgomery, Jameson Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Sam LaPorta all scored for the Lions.
  • Chargers 6, Patriots 0: At least he took care of the ball, but the quarterback change to Bailey Zappe didn’t lead to a spark for the Patriots offense—though it didn’t help that Rhamondre Stevenson left the loss with an ankle injury. New England is the first team since 1938 to go 0-3 while allowing ten or fewer points in three consecutive games.
  • Cardinals 24, Steelers 10: Arizona got its third win of the season behind a strong effort by the defense and by James Conner (25 carries, 105 yards, two touchdowns) in his return to Pittsburgh. The Steelers will be without quarterback Kenny Pickett (ankle) for a bit due to another injury while dropping to 7-5 in the crowded AFC.
  • Dolphins 45, Commanders 15: Tyreek Hill (157 yards, two touchdowns) going off against Washington’s defense was perhaps the most predictable performance of 2023, as Ron Rivera’s unit didn’t show improvement with him taking over defensive playcalling. The lack of involvement for receivers Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson remains stunning, but the Dolphins defense is playing very well.
  • Buccaneers 21, Panthers 18: Carolina put up a good battle at home, but Antoine Winfield Jr. (one sack, one interception) led the banged-up Tampa Bay defense as the Bucs got to 5-7 ahead of a crucial NFC South battle with the Falcons.
  • Rams 36, Browns 19: Joe Flacco (254 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) did a nice job in his first start for the Browns, but the Rams seperated late to win their third consecutive game. Los Angeles has allowed point totals of 16, 14, and 19 during the winning streak.


Top fantasy performers in Week 13


  • Seahawks WR DK Metcalf: 34.4 points
  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel: 33.8 points
  • Seahawks QB Geno Smith: 29.96 points
  • Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill: 29.8 points
  • Texans WR Nico Collins: 29.6 points


(point totals are for half PPR scoring)


NFL news


The Eagles signed All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who was reportedly deciding between Philadelphia and Dallas.



Colts superstar running back Jonathan Taylor underwent thumb surgery last week and is set to miss more time after he did not play in Week 13.



Texans offensive lineman Tytus Howard is out for the season due to a knee injury suffered in Week 12.



The Bengals placed cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (ankle) on injured reserve.


The Cardinals released veteran tight end Zach Ertz, who cleared waivers and is free to sign with any team. The Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, and Eagles are speculated among the potential landing spots for Ertz.


Other Sports Updates


The College Football Playoff is set, with the Semifinal matchups on Monday, January 1:


  • Rose Bowl: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Michigan (5:00 PM ET)
  • Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Texas vs. No. 2 Washington (8:45 PM ET)


Florida State went 13-0 and won the ACC but were unfortunately held out of the CFP, becoming the first unbeaten Power Five school to miss the Playoff (since 2014). Next year, the CFP will expand to 12 teams, so the Seminoles will always have the biggest beef with the CFP Committee.


College football conference championship game results:


  • Liberty 49, New Mexico State 35 (Conference USA): Liberty stayed unbeaten, and the Flames have earned a New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl matchup with Oregon.
  • Washington 34, Oregon 31 (Pac-12): In the final Pac-12 football game, the Huskies beat the Ducks in a tight game for the second time this season. Bo Nix and Oregon quickly cut a ten-point deficit to three with a chance to get the ball back, but the defense was unable to make a stop.
  • Texas 49, Oklahoma State 21 (Big 12): Quinn Ewers set Big 12 title game records with 452 passing yards and four first-half touchdowns, as the Longhorns leave for the SEC in 2024 as Big 12 champions.
  • SMU 26, Tulane 14 (AAC): The Mustangs took down the Green Wave for their first conference championship since 1984 before heading for the ACC next year.
  • Alabama 27, Georgia 24 (SEC): In another SEC classic, Jalen Milroe led the Crimson Tide to an upset win, ending the back-to-back national champion Bulldogs’ winning streak at 29 games. It was the final SEC on CBS game.
  • Michigan 26, Iowa 0 (Big Ten): Iowa played tough and hung around, but Michigan was too much and earned their No. 1 ranking in the CFP.
  • Florida State 16, Louisville 6 (ACC): The Seminoles rode excellent defense, which they and many others felt should’ve been enough to get them into the CFP despite not having star quarterback Jordan Travis.


Heisman finalists revealed:


  • LSU QB Jayden Daniels
  • Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
  • Oregon QB Bo Nix
  • Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.


️ A big reason this is one of the best times of the year is college football bowl season. Here is the full New Year’s Six bowl schedule that will help kick in the new year:


  • Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 7 Ohio State | Fri., 12/29, 8:00 PM ET
  • Peach Bowl: No. 11 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Penn State | Sat., 12/30, 12:00 PM ET
  • Orange Bowl: No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 5 Florida State | Sat., 12/30, 4:00 PM ET
  • Fiesta Bowl: No. 23 Liberty vs. No. 8 Oregon | Sat., 12/30, 8:00 PM ET
  • Rose Bowl: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Michigan | Mon., 1/1, 5:00 PM ET
  • Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Texas vs. No. 2 Washington | Mon., 1/1, 8:45 PM ET


Transfer portal madness: A bunch of quarterbacks from big programs are entering the transfer portal.


  • Cameron Ward (Washington State)
  • Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma)
  • Dante Moore (UCLA)
  • Kyle McCord (Ohio State)
  • DJ Uiagalelei (Oregon State)
  • Aidan Chiles (Oregon State)
  • Riley Leonard (Duke)
  • Tyle Van Dyke (Miami)
  • Will Howard (Kansas State)
  • Will Rogers (Mississippi State)


⚾️ The Braves acquired outfielder Jarred Kelenic from the Mariners.


The Red Wings signed three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane.


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