How the Bears, Cowboys saved their season and entered the playoff hunt

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There are so many interesting playoff possibilities this morning. But two stand above all:

• Dallas. The Cowboys got a quarter-season out of Dak Prescott before a grotesque injury sidelined him. They started Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert at quarterback. Andy Dalton has had to be uncharacteristically bombs-away Dan Fouts at times. They’ve given up 5.0 yards per rush and 30 points per game. They had one of the game’s most beloved assistant coaches, Markus Paul, collapse in the team’s weight room in front of players and die a day later. Just a horrible season. But football does not stop.

Today, the Cowboys are better than the Giants, and Washington is a mess. Much stranger things have happened in the NFL than a seesaw Dallas team making the postseason. The Cowboys could be a 7-9 playoff team and enter the postseason hot. “By far the biggest challenge emotionally and as a football coach that I’ve been through,” McCarthy said. “I’m a new coach here, trying to make a first impression, the pandemic hits, no offseason, the Dak injury, the bad start, just one thing after another . . . and then the reality of it, those were tiny things compared to what was coming.” He meant the death of Paul, a team strength coach, on Nov. 25, then having to play a game the next day.

• Chicago. In the midst of a fast start, fourth-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was benched for indecision and inaccuracy. Nick Foles came in and won a couple of games, and then the losing streak. Foles got yanked, and in his last four starts, Trubisky actually has stoked an ember of thought that maybe, just maybe . . . No. No. Stop right there. It’s still unlikely Trubisky, a free-agent after the season because Chicago didn’t exercise his fifth-year option, is the long-term answer in Chicago, but the future doesn’t matter now. What matters is Trubisky’s got a little mojo going (72.3 percent passing in his last four games, with seven TDs and two picks), and the odds are in Chicago’s favor: PFF has the Bears’ playoff odds at 70.2 percent, obviously counting more on the Rams beating Arizona than Chicago beating Aaron Rodgers.

“I believe in my heart of hearts that being benched [in Week 4] put him on a mission,” said Nagy. “I told him that day that what feels like the worst day of your life could turn out to be the best day.” If Trubisky makes it to Wild-Card Weekend, Nagy might be right.

Two cornerstone franchises of the NFL, two proud franchises, trying to sneak in with embattled coaches and quarterbacks out for redemption.

Dallas went to Minnesota four days before Thanksgiving and began to get on the right track with a 31-28 win. McCarthy said flying home that evening, he felt that, even though the team was 3-7, they still had time to win the division and this was the start of their move. Two mornings later, McCarthy got to work at 6, just about the time Markus Paul was pulling into the parking lot. “We walked in together,” McCarthy said. “He had a workout with the younger guys, I think at 6:30. I went back to my office and [special teams coach] John Fassel ran in and says, ‘Hey, we gotta get downstairs.’ That’s when Markus collapsed. I was there right after it happened. The tragedy is obviously unspeakable to see one of your guys go down like that, but the whole team was there. It’s five minutes after 7. Everybody was either in the weight room or outside the weight room. It was tough, really tough on the guys. They’re talking about it a little more now. It’s clearly the point of our season where I was just like, what’s gonna happen next?”

Paul was rushed to a hospital. McCarthy sent the team home Tuesday. No practice on Wednesday either—just supporting each other. Paul was pronounced dead on Wednesday. On Thursday, there was a football game against Washington.

“When I walked on the field on Thanksgiving, and I shouldn’t even admit this, as a head coach, you usually have a general idea how the game’s going to go. But that day, I had no idea. There was sort of a numb feeling that day.” Washington 41, Dallas 16. And the loss at Baltimore 12 days later. And a very short week with another road game, at Cincinnati.

What’s happened is Dalton (last three games: 117.0 passer rating) and his receivers are bonding. Dallas beat the Bengals by 23, eked by San Francisco thanks to Niner turnovers, and roasted the Jalen Hurts-sparkplugged Eagles by 20 Sunday. CeeDee LambAmari Cooper and Michael Gallup combined for 307 receiving yards and three TDs Sunday. A win at the Meadowlands next Sunday afternoon would at least keep Dallas on the right track headed into 2021, and it might send Tampa Bay to JerryWorld for a playoff game no one saw coming.

“I’m gonna say it reminds me a little of 2013 in Green Bay,” McCarthy said. “We got in at 8-7-1. Aaron [Rodgers] broke his collarbone for the first time, and we were just scratching and clawing. We played four quarterbacks that year: Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, Aaron and Matt Flynn. That’s probably the closest experience from that perspective that I could relate to this. But it’s been tough in this division this year. Three new coaches, and Doug [Pederson] had injuries and the quarterback change. Just an odd year. In the end, you gotta stay the course and just be who you are.”

Nagy said the culture in his locker room was solid, and helped withstand the six-game losing streak. Trubisky began playing better after an eminently forgettable game at Lambeau Field, a 41-25 loss that wasn’t that close. Since then, the Bears have averaged 35 points a game. It’s helped that the last four teams Chicago’s played are 31st, 30th, 27th and 32nd in the league in yards allowed per game. Green Bay is eighth. The Bears are 1-8 against the Pack in the last five seasons, and what hurts Chicago is the Packers will be motivated to win and not rest their players Sunday. A win Sunday would give the Packers a second straight 13-3 regular-season record under Matt LaFleur, and would mean Green Bay would win the lone NFC bye. What helps Chicago? Arizona is ice-cold, losers of four of six, with Kyler Murray slumping since the Hail Murray beat Buffalo in November.

This could be Trubisky’s last game as a Bear. Who will we see dueling Rodgers? Trubisky’s 1-4 in his career against Rodgers, and after seeing Rodgers’ consistent dissections of recent foes (he was masterful Sunday night in a 40-14 rout of the Titans), it seems clear Trubisky’s going to have to score in the thirties to give the Bears a good shot. “Mitchell’s always been a pleaser,” Nagy said from Chicago. “He wanted to please his teammates, his coaches, the fans. But now he’s more about organic leadership. He’s not trying to please everybody—he’s trying to lead.”

The supporting cast is solid too—with a running back, David Montgomery (1,001 yards) and number one receiver, Allen Robinson (100 catches), and two tight ends with 69 catches and 10 TDs between them, Jimmy Graham and rookie Cole Kmet. On a good day, this offense can light it up. It may have to for a 2020 playoff berth.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here

49ers vs Broncos live stream: How to watch SNF online, time, TV channel tonight for NFL Week 3 matchup

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With 2 weeks of action already in the books, all the attention now shifts to Week 3. This Sunday night, September 25, it’s Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers taking on Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos in a battle at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America on NBC and streaming live on Peacock.

Wilson is 16-4 against the 49ers in the regular season and has thrown 36 touchdown passes against San Francisco, the most he’s thrown against any opponent. On the other side, Garoppolo, who entered the game in Week 2 after Trey Lance suffered an ankle injury, owns a 31-14 record as the 49ers’ starting quarterback and has led the team to two NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl.

More from NBC Sports Pressbox:

San Francisco and Denver will meet for the 16th time on Sunday and the 49ers currently hold an 8-7 advantage in the all-time series, including the postseason. The SNF matchup will mark the first meeting between the teams since Week 14 in 2018. The 49ers went on to win that game, 20-14.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

NBC has got you covered with all you need to know about the game including the TV channel, start time, live stream information, and more.

How to watch 49ers vs Broncos live on Sunday Night Football

  • Where: Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado
  • When: Sunday, September 25
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

RELATED: Peter King’s 2022 NFL Season Predictions

This NFL season, Peacock is streaming all of NBC’s NFL games including regular season and playoff games. More from Peacock’s website:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football with a Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here.

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: See the 2022 NFL Sunday Night Football schedule here

Tune into Football Night in America this week and all season long, for new weekly segments hosted by Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, now showcasing real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker, courtesy of BetMGM. 

Don’t forget to stick around postgame because Peacock Sunday Night Football Final is going to go deep on all the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

Make sure to visit NBC Sports EDGE, NBC’s betting and fantasy sports site, for in-depth coverage highlighting the players and storylines impacting the football season on Peacock and across NBC Sports digital platforms.

RELATED: Check out all the latest NFL news and Rumors for the 2022 season

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers vs Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 2 – Mike McDaniel’s ‘F— It’ Play Powers Dolphins’ Comeback and How 49ers Adjust Without Trey Lance

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – 49ers at Broncos

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

 RELATED: How to watch 49ers vs Broncos – Live stream, TV Channel, Game Preview


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 3 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: PFT’s Week 2 2022 NFL picks


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!