By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s Christmas week. The NFL is going to finish its season, despite the pandemic. That’s wild.
Here are some quick-hit thoughts on what should be a very wonderful week of football.
–Oh, the football is magnificent this week! Once that roast beast is settled in your tum-tum on Christmas Day, a late-afternoon meeting between the Saints and Vikings awaits you — with Christmas Color Rush, no less! (You’ll doze off in the second quarter and wake up at the start of the fourth, if you’re an expert couch occupier.)
We’ve got THREE games on Saturday. The first one features Tom Brady, which — let’s face it — is always must-see TV. The nightcap features a fun Dolphins team visiting a Raiders team that’s desperate to win. That’s the good stuff. (There’s nothing wrong with the middle game between the Niners and Cardinals, either.)
On Sunday afternoon, Colts-Steelers and Rams-Seahawks are the highlights, before a dynamite Sunday nighter between the Titans and Packers. And while the Patriots may stink, a Monday nighter between the Pats and Bills is high quality programming. (Last year’s Week 16 Saturday night game was unbelievable.)
That’s a great week of football, folks. Enjoy.
–Potentially Overlooked Storyline: Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculous season. I guess it’s hard to quantify how much attention something is getting, but I feel as though not enough people in America are aware of how ridiculous Aaron Rodgers’ 2020 season has been.
In 14 games, he has … 40 touchdowns … and four interceptions.
He’s already tied (with himself, twice, and with Andrew Luck) for having thrown the 12th-most touchdowns in a season. If he throws five more over the final two weeks, he’ll tie himself for the seventh-most ever. It’s a lot of touchdowns. And to do it with a 10-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio, one top-flight receiver, and to do it at age 36/37? It’s magnificent.
While every year is different, and while yes, the Packers’ strength of victory this year is embarrassing, it’s worth noting that Brady won the MVP in 2017 with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Brady was also the first-ever unanimous league MVP in 2010, when he threw 36 touchdowns and four interceptions. Rodgers has four more TDs, the same number of picks, and two more games to tally the stats. Ridiculous.
–Speaking of quarterbacks, two old men are in that role for two of the NFC’s top teams. Maybe not top top teams, but playoff teams nevertheless. It’s rare enough for a quarterback to succeed at 40, and it’s even weirder for two guys to being it at the same time, and it’s stranger yet that they’re doing it in the same division.
Yet Drew Brees (41, will turn 42 in January) and Tom Brady (43) combined to throw 53 touchdowns this season. Brees obviously missed time after suffering something like 77 broken ribs, but … he managed to return last week. Are old guys supposed to have ribs heal that quickly? I’m not sure. I’m not a doctor.
In any event, let’s hope that someone purchased an “Old Guys Rock!” shirt for both of the NFC South’s top QBs. Crazy stuff.
–Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch is leaving New England to take over as the head coach at the University of Arizona. Good for him. You know? But also … it’s confusing that being the quarterbacks coach in a year when Patriots QBs have thrown eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions warrants a major promotion. That’s not to invalidate Fisch or his whole career or anything like that. It’s just … typically you have to produce some tangible results at one job before advancing significantly to the next job.
–Josh Rosen was the 10th overall pick two years ago. Tenth. No. 10. Of all the humans in the world, he was selected as the 10th-best player in the NFL. Just 972 days ago.
And yet this week, Rosen popped up in headlines because the 49ers signed him off the Buccaneers’ practice squad. The 49ers will be his fourth NFL team since entering the league in 2018.
If Rosen ends up washing out of the league, he obviously won’t be the first high pick to do so. Jake Locker (eighth), Christian Ponder (12th), Josh Freeman (17th), Brady Quinn (22nd) and of course, No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell come immediately to mind.
But Rosen was a good college quarterback, and he’s had no stability to speak of in his brief NFL career. He’s just 23 years old, too. He seems like a candidate to potentially be a late bloomer of sorts, either if he sticks with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco or finds a new home that gives him an actual chance.
(Maybe I only think that because I definitely spent at least 75 minutes in the spring of 2019 crafting a reality where Josh Rosen ended up as Tom Brady’s successor. Perhaps I’m pot committed. MAYBE.)
–The Chiefs are going to win the Super Bowl again. That’s it. That’s the entire thought. I mean, who’s really going to beat them? The only threat to the Chiefs is the possibility of just having a bad day on offense in January. Other than that? Crown ’em. CROWN ‘EM NOW.
–We all laughed and guffawed at the Jets likely blowing their shot at Trevor Lawrence, and with good reason. That’s funny stuff.
But now that some time has passed, it really sets in how much something as forgettable as a mid-December Rams-Jets game can alter football history. Let’s say Lawrence pans out and is as great as he’s expected to be. That’s somewhere between 10-15 years of excellent quarterback play for whichever franchise gets him. (Probably not if it was the Jets or if it ends up being the Jaguars, because those organizations are disasters. But bear with me.)
Some of it’s all a crapshoot. The Chiefs look to be in decent position at the QB spot for the next decade, and they just kind of happened upon Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall. There’s no grand point here, I guess, other than to say … it’s still hilarious that the Jets did that. Classic!
–Two Steelers storylines stand out right now. One is that Ben Roethlisberger said he’s playing like “poop.” Heck yeah, Ben. Thank you.
Second is JuJu Smith-Schuster deciding, upon much reflection, to stop dancing on opposing team’s logos. Apparently getting absolutely rocked over the middle and committing a ghastly turnover on Monday Night Football by a defensive back who left no doubt that the dancing was what inspired him to deliver some extra oomph can drive that message home.
JuJu warming up next to the Browns logo in Week 17 knowing he said he won't dance on it pic.twitter.com/9rFuxb1wkT
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 23, 2020
–Tom Brady created some headlines this week by tossing up a picture of the saddest banner of all time in reply to Tony Dungy saying Brady is the sixth-best QB of all time. A lot of people saw that and were perplexed, as Dungy obviously wasn’t the coach of the 2014 Colts team, which lost 700-3 or something in the 2014 AFC title game.
Those people don’t get it. You have to understand, Tom Brady never says anything. Ever. He speaks, sure. But he never says anything. His feelings/thoughts/emotions/anger … he keeps that buried. Because when he says anything, it creates massive headlines.
So that image? That was basically Tom Brady’s version of sticking up a middle finger, saying bleep you Tony Dungy, bleep you Indianapolis Colts, you are losers. More or less.
–Now to our top story: I’m one game under .500 on the NFL picks this season. So I’ve completely wasted my time and yours. Way to go, Mike.
Anyhoo, until I get over .500, I’m still zipping my lip with these picks. Let’s hope I get there before the playoffs.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
NEW ORLEANS (-7) over Minnesota
Tampa Bay (-9.5) over DETROIT
ARIZONA (-5) over San Francisco
Miami (-3) over LAS VEGAS
KANSAS CITY (-10.5) over Atlanta
NEW YORK JETS (+9.5) over Cleveland
PITTSBURGH (+2) over Indianapolis
Chicago (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE
BALTIMORE (-10.5) over New York Giants
Cincinnati (+8) over HOUSTON
L.A. Chargers (-3.5) over DENVER
WASHINGTON (-2) over Carolina
Philadelphia (-2.5) over DALLAS
L.A. Rams (+1.5) over SEATTLE
Tennessee (+3.5) over GREEN BAY
NEW ENGLAND (+7) over Buffalo
Last week: 9-7