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Home / frontsports / The Wolf Sports Newsletter: November 28, 2023

The Wolf Sports Newsletter: November 28, 2023


A fantastic weekend of football both college and pro provided great entertainment during the holiday weekend.

 

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Panthers fire Frank Reich

 

After 11 games and a 1-10 start, the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Frank Reich, along with quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley.

 

 

  • Reich becomes the first coach since at least the NFL merger to be fired in consecutive seasons, and it’s not a surprise. The offensive line—thought to be a potential strength when he was hired—did not play well (which also happened to the unit with Reich in Indy last season), and the offense overall felt like it had no identity.
  • Special teams coach Chris Tabor will take over as the team’s interim head coach.
  • Panthers owner David Tepper will be searching for another head coach (his fourth hire since buying the franchise in 2018). This is the second consecutive year that Carolina has fired its coach during the season. (Steve Wilks went 6-6 as the interim coach last year but was not hired for the full-time gig.)
  • Over the final six games, the Panthers—who do not hold their 2024 first-round pick after the trade up with the Bears—will try to get No. 1 pick Bryce Young on track during what’s been a very difficult rookie campaign.
  • It seems unlikely that general manager Scott Fiterrer will (or should) oversee another head coach hire, but there’s been no statement about his job status as of yet.

 

Week 12 NFL highlights

 

Now to the games from last week, Bills-Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field was a headliner, with both Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen going off for four-plus touchdowns in a thrilling overtime win by Philadelphia—clinched by a game-winning touchdown run by Hurts. The past two games have felt like playoff showdowns for the Eagles, and they continue to find a way to win behind the MVP frontrunner. Arguably the best two players in the league right now, Hurts and Allen became the first players in NFL history to both have multiple passing and rushing touchdowns in the same game. In the loss, Allen joined Michael Vick as the only other player in league history to have 300+ passing yards, 80+ rushing yards, two passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns in a game.

 

 

To the Thanksgiving matchups, the Packers started things off with an upset win over the Lions, winning 29-22 after jumping out to a 20-6 first-quarter lead. Jordan Love continues to show progress and stayed hot with 268 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, while Rashan Gary recorded three sacks for the underrated Green Bay defense.

 

 

The Cowboys continued their dominance at home, demolishing the Commanders by 35 points on Thanksgiving. A week after tying the single-season record, Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland broke the NFL record with his fifth pick-six of the year to put an exclamation point on the win. Dallas hasn’t trailed at AT&T Stadium for one second this season, and they’ve outscored opponents 205-60 in five home games.

 

 

The 49ers also continued their dominance, handling the division-rival Seahawks on Thanksgiving Night. Christian McCaffrey scored twice and looked like Frankenstein while getting a new backup helmet adjusted. Defensively, Nick Bosa has five sacks (1.5+ in each game) in the three outings since former Ohio State teammate Chase Young was added in a trade with the Commanders.

 

 

️ In the NFL’s first Black Friday game on Prime Video, the Dolphins took care of a struggling Jets team that continues to be historically bad on offense—with the lowest third-down conversion rate in NFL history. The super memorable highlight of the game was a pick-six Hail Mary by Dolphins safety Jevon Holland to end the first half. As Mike Tirico said while discussing it on Sunday Night Football, only the Jets could throw a Hail Mary pick-six. As was obvious for those that actually watched, it looks like Zach Wilson wasn’t the issue on offense. Unfortunately for Miami, they lost pass rusher Jaelan Phillips for the year due to a torn Achilles.

 

 

Avenging a loss earlier this season, the Jaguars were able to hold on to beat the Texans—with a potential game-tying 58-yard field goal by Matt Amendola being dead-center but hitting the front of the cross bar. Josh Allen recorded 2.5 sacks in the win, helping make up for C.J. Stroud again going for over 300 yards through the air. Jacksonville improves to 8-3, and they are quietly right in the mix for the top seed in the AFC after Thanksgiving. However, the Jags will be without left tackle Cam Robinson for at least a few weeks due to a knee injury.

 

 

‍⬛ The Ravens are currently the top seed in the conference (now on their bye at 9-3 with the extra game played) after containing the Chargers offense on Sunday night. Baltimore’s stout defense forced four turnovers (one being a Hail Mary interception at the end of the half), and rookie receiver Zay Flowers—selected after LA took Quentin Johnston, who was benched in the loss, in this year’s draft—virtually sealed the win with a 37-yard touchdown run for his second score of the night with under two minutes remaining.

 

 

Other Week 12 games:

 

  • Falcons 24, Saints 15: Inconsistent offense continued for the Saints, who were unable to find the end zone despite racking up 444 yards of offense. Running back Bijan Robinson (two touchdowns) and safety Jessie Bates III (pick-six, forced fumble of Taysom Hill) starred for the Falcons.
  • Steelers 16, Bengals 10: In the first game since the firing of offensive coordinator Matt Canada, the Steelers went over 400 yards of offense for the first time in 58 games while winning yet another close game.
  • Colts 27, Buccaneers 20: Jonathan Taylor scored twice and the Indy defense recorded six sacks as the Colts got to 6-5 and currently sit in a wild-card spot in the AFC. More on the Colts in a moment.
  • Giants 10, Patriots 7: Mac Jones was again benched after two first-half interceptions, and kicker Chad Ryland missed a short potential game-tying field goal at the end of the game as the stunning inability to score points continues for a New England team that’s played good defense. The Giants have won two consecutive games with undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito.
  • Titans 17, Panthers 10: Derrick Henry scored twice, and the Titans defense got a quick stop on a potential game-tying drive in what was the final blow for Frank Reich in Carolina.
  • Chiefs 31, Raiders 17: Overcoming a slow start, the Chiefs went on a 31-3 run after falling behind 14-0 at Vegas. Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdowns and Isiah Pacheco ran for two touchdowns.
  • Broncos 29, Browns 12: Denver defended homefield and stayed hot with their fifth consecutive victory to get to 6-5. Even if he’s not putting up massive numbers, Russell Wilson continues to make plays and clutch throws for a Broncos squad that’s clearly bought in under Sean Payton. Dorian Thompson-Robinson left the game for the Browns after taking a big hit, and we’ll see if Joe Flacco is soon under center for the 7-4 team.
  • Rams 37, Cardinals 14: Kyren Williams totaled 204 yards and two touchdowns in his return to the lineup from his ankle injury, and the Rams did a nice job of controlling the game to remain squarely in the playoff picture at 5-6.
  • Bears 12, Vikings 10: Chicago kicked all field goals in a turnover-filled Monday nighter. Joshua Dobbs threw four interceptions, and Minnesota might reevaluate the starting quarterback role during the bye week.

 

Top fantasy performers in Week 12

 

  • Bills QB Josh Allen: 39.66 points
  • Rams RB Kyren Williams: 35.4 points
  • Eagles QB Jalen Hurts: 34.5 points
  • Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: 32.24 points
  • Texans QB C.J. Stroud: 30.86 points

 

(point totals are for half PPR scoring)

 

Colts release Shaquille Leonard

 

The Colts released three-time first-team All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard early last week.

 

 

  • Leonard’s playing time had diminished this season, and he was apparently going to be made inactive in games moving forward. Instead, Indy decided to release him.
  • Because of his contract, Leonard cleared waivers. He’s now free to sign with any team.
  • Injuries have derailed the playmaking linebacker’s career a bit, but he’s still just 28 years old with plenty of talent.
  • Leonard actually attended the Colts’ Week 12 win over the Bucs and received a big ovation from the crowd.
  • The Cowboys and Eagles are seen as the two biggest contenders to sign Leonard, who is taking his first visit to Dallas—the presumable favorite—today.

 

Other NFL transactions

  • The Eagles released former first-round pick Derek Barnett, who was claimed by the Texans.
  • The Raiders released veteran cornerback Marcus Peters.
  • The Dolphins signed pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul off the Saints practice squad.

 

Other Sports Updates

 

College football highlights (team rankings at time of matchup):

 

  • No. 3 Michigan 30, No. 2 Ohio State 24: The Wolverines got their third consecutive win over their biggest rival behind two touchdowns by Blake Corum and strong defense. Michigan can lock up a CFP spot in the Big Ten Championship against Iowa this Saturday.
  • No. 8 Alabama 27, Auburn 24: In yet another wild Iron Bowl, Jalen Milroe hit Isaiah Bond for a 31-yard score on fourth-and-goal to both win the top-tier rivalry game and keep Bama’s College Football Playoff hopes alive ahead of the SEC Championship against Georgia this Saturday at 4:00 PM ET.

 

 

  • No. 5 Florida State 24, Florida 15: The Gators made it a big-time battle in rowdy Gainesville, but the Seminoles showed toughness and came through with their playoff hopes still alive with the ACC title game versus Louisville up next.
  • No. 4 Washington 24, Washington State 21: The Huskies barely defeated the Cougars in the Apple Cup, with a banged-up Michael Penix Jr. unable to even watch the game-winning field goal by Grady Gross.
  • No. 6 Oregon 31, No. 16 Oregon State 7: Ducks quarterback Bo Nix totaled 398 yards and three touchdowns to help Oregon redeem last year’s loss to the in-state rival. Oregon faces Washington in the Pac-12 Championship for a rematch of a tight Huskies win earlier this year.
  • No. 12 Ole Miss 17, Mississippi State 7: The Rebels got a gritty Egg Bowl win to be in position for a potential New Year’s Six bowl.
  • No. 20 Oklahoma State 40, BYU 34 (2OT): The Cowboys survived to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game against Texas.
  • Kentucky 38, No. 10 Louisville 31: Devin Leary (three touchdowns) and running back Ray Davis (one rushing touchdown, two receiving touchdowns) led the Wildcats to the upset win over the top-ten rival, and Mark Stoops will be staying with the program after Texas A&M fans basically nixed his hire there.
  • No. 14 LSU 42, Texas A&M 30: Heisman hopeful Jayden Daniels threw four touchdowns and ran for 120 yards in his final opportunity in front of the voters. The Tigers put up 21 fourth-quarter points to come back and beat the Aggies.
  • No. 1 Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 23: The Yellow Jackets also put up a fight, which was a major theme in rivalry games; but the Dawgs were too good even without Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey in the lineup.

 

Also, a salute to the Pac-12 and Pac-12 After Dark, as the conference will have its last-ever football game with the Pac-12 Championship Game this Friday night. Cal defeated UCLA in the conference’s final regular season game late Saturday night.

 

 

➡️ Texas A&M hired Duke head coach Mike Elko as the team’s new head coach. Elko served as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator from 2018-2021.

 

⚾️ The St. Louis Cardinals are signing starting pitcher Sonny Gray to a three-year, $75 million deal.

 

Former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison after serving nine years for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

 

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