Home / frontsports / The Wolf Sports Newsletter: January 22, 2024

The Wolf Sports Newsletter: January 22, 2024

We’re down to the NFL’s final four teams ahead of Championship Sunday.


NFL Divisional Round recap


The No. 1 seed Ravens exploded with a 24-0 second half in their win over the Texans, with Lamar Jackson totaling two passing scores and two rushing scores. The Baltimore defense was dominant against Houston, allowing just three points defensively in the 34-10 victory (Steven Sims had a 67-yard punt return touchdown for the Texans). While the first half was relatively slow, any concerns about rust for the Ravens have been erased after separating in the second half. Also, Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to have three 100-yard rushing games in the postseason.



In the NFC, the top-seeded 49ers also advanced, with Brock Purdy leading a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter—despite Deebo Samuel being knocked out of the game due to a shoulder injury. It was the first time that Kyle Shanahan’s team has ever come back from a fourth-quarter deficit of five-plus points (previously 0-30). The victory for San Francisco was sealed by linebacker Dre Greenlaw’s second interception of the game, on a shockingly ill-advised decision by Jordan Love.



Jared Goff and the Lions stayed hot, with more late-game clutch play from both sides of the ball in their 31-23 win over the Buccaneers. The victory was sealed on an interception by linebacker Derrick Barnes, Detroit’s second of the game. Goff joined Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Kurt Warner as the only quarterbacks since 2000 to take two different franchises to a conference championship game. The Lions added veteran tight end Zach Ertz to the mix now as well.



In another heavyweight showdown between Kansas City and Buffalo, the Chiefs again beat the AFC rival to advance to their sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game under Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. It was the first-ever road playoff game for Mahomes, and he and the offense look to have found something the past couple of weeks after an inconsistent regular season. For the Bills, they continue to come up short in the postseason as a team. Among the lowlights on the Bills side were a missed potential game-tying field goal by Tyler Bass and a drop for a potential go-ahead 80-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs on an absolute dime from Josh Allen. The defending champion Chiefs have another massive battle in Baltimore this Sunday.



NFL news and notes


The Raiders have hired interim head coach Antonio Pierce on a full-time basis after his 5-4 stretch this season while getting strong support from his players.



⚔️ The Titans are hiring Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to be the team’s next head coach.



Despite the rumors and looming presence of Bill Belichick, the Cowboys are retaining head coach Mike McCarthy in 2024. McCarthy has led Dallas to three consecutive 12-win seasons, and he’s set to enter next season in the final year of his contract.



Mike Tomlin officially says he’ll be back with the Steelers in 2024. He also added that Kenny Pickett will enter next season as the team’s top quarterback but that he will have competition (potentially Mason Rudolph).


Bill Belichick interviewed twice with the Falcons for their head coach opening, and Jim Harbaugh is set for his second interview with the Chargers this week. To this point, Atlanta is the only team with a known connection to Belichick.


The Panthers hired former player Dan Morgan to be the team’s new President of Football Operations / General Manager.



The Jaguars hired former Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielson to the same position.


The Saints fired offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who has been the team’s OC since 2009. The Browns are switching up their offensive staff, and the are bringing in former Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees as the team’s new tight end coach.


49ers wanted Tom Brady?


According to ESPN, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told Brock Purdy early this offseason that he would be locked in as the team’s starting quarterback… unless they were able to sign Tom Brady, in which case he would be the backup for a year. Interestingly, Brady opted to stay retired instead of playing for his hometown team and trying to become the first quarterback in NFL history to lead three different franchises to a Super Bowl title. And Purdy currently has the Niners on the cusp of getting to the Big Game.



Other Sports Updates


Miami tight end Cam McCormick has been granted a ninth year of college football eligibility—a record that will likely never be touched.



The Astros signed top reliever Josh Hader to a five-year, $95 million contract. Hader was with the Astros organization from 2013-2015.


The Islanders fired head coach Lane Lambert and replaced him with Patrick Roy.


In Case You Missed It