New Orleans Saints QB battle continues between Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston

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NEW ORLEANS — As the Saints’ traveling party deplaned for the first preseason game in Baltimore 10 days ago, coach Sean Payton boarded Bus 1 and took his customary seat in the first row, next to the boarding stairs, the seat next to him, as always, unoccupied. Twenty, 25 Saints people got on after him, all walking past the empty two seats across the aisle from Payton. The door closed. The seats across the aisle, empty.

Payton took out his smart phone and took a photo of the empty seats. He texted the photo to the person who’d been sitting in those seats on every Saints road trip since 2006, the year they both arrived in Louisiana.

He wrote this message to Drew Brees, under the photo: “Every once in a while, I miss you.”

A few days later, before the Saints practiced in the Superdome on Friday night, Payton reflected on the body part that’s been missing this summer. “Every road trip I’ve been on since 2006, it’s been me and Drew, only me and Drew, in those seats,” he said. “On the trip to Baltimore, no one sat there on the way from the hotel to the airport, or on the way from the hotel to the game the next day, or on the way from the game back to the airport after the game. I’m all alone. Remember the movie ‘Papillon?’ I felt like the leper in the penal colony in Papillon.”

Jerry Glanville once famously said in an NFL Films piece, “You know what NFL stands for? Not For Long.” Brees, of course, defied that, lasting 15 seasons in New Orleans and registering 151 wins. His relationship with Payton was symphonic. I sat in on a 2018 Saints play-calling meeting the Saturday night before a game, and Brees went up and down the playsheet and ID’d 46 plays he hoped would be called the next day. I asked Payton how many of those he’d dial up. “Every one, I hope,” Payton said. “What he wants to run, I want to call.”

Payton is energized, truly, by the duel between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to replace Brees. He likes the life-goes-on part of this camp. He’s smitten with Winston’s arm, knowing how motivated he is to make the most of his second chance in the NFC South. Payton is a true believer, maybe one of the few, in the ability of Hill to be a playoff quarterback, especially after seeing him win three of four starts in relief of Brees last year.

“But there are times, maybe not every day, when I’ll think about Drew. How can you not?” Payton said. “The decision does weigh on me.”

There is, though, no time for gauzy sentimentality for the Saints this year. They’ve got Super Bowl champ Tampa Bay, totally reloaded to try to repeat, in their division, and Payton has to make one of the biggest decisions of his coaching career this week. Who wins the job as heir to Brees—Winston, the classic pocket quarterback trying to overcome his turnover bug; or Hill, the spritely unicorn of a passer/football-weapon? Monday is a huge night for The Decision.

Rarely do games in August mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of the balance of power in the NFL. But when the Saints host Jacksonville today (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) in the Superdome, Winston will have a chance to make his closing argument to win the job. After Hill got the start in Baltimore last week, Winston gets this one. Payton told me he hopes to name his starter before the final preseason game Saturday against Arizona, so Winston’s performance with the first team for multiple series will be the most important game he’s played since he lost his job in 2019 in Tampa Bay.

It’s dangerous to make any predictions now, because I believe (based on a 45-minute conversation with Payton on Friday) that a lot rides on the game today. I do think he has not decided anything with finality. But a strong game by Winston tonight would be influential. Picking Winston would crush Hill, who went 3-1 at QB with Brees hurt last year, and is sure he’s ready to be Brees’ heir. But it would allow Payton to retain Hill as his Swiss Army Knife weapon on offense and special teams. With the loss of trusted tight end Jared Cook in free agency and with wideout Michael Thomas out till October after ankle surgery, Hill—who had 108 snaps at tight end/wide receiver/slot last year—is the kind of weapon Payton would miss if he was the starting quarterback. Hill also has been a prime special-teams weapon, and that would go away if he started at quarterback.

It would be a cruel irony for Hill if he wasn’t named quarterback—and the reason was because Payton didn’t want to lose his snaps as a gadget/special-teams player.

Hill’s athleticism was on display Friday night in the team’s Superdome practice. It wasn’t a great night for him passing the ball, but he scored twice on bootlegs (called or coverage-forced) that showed off his 4.45 speed and great running instinct. Hill’s faster than Steve Young, and he’s built with a Tebow chest that makes him hard to bring down.

There’s also this: “We knew we could win at a high clip going 5-0 two years ago with Teddy Bridgewater,” defensive Cam Jordan said. “Then last year, Drew’s down again and we go 3-1 with Taysom. The change in the guard is shocking and hurts for sure, but at the same time, we know what we can do as a defense now. We know the identity of our team isn’t just Drew Orleans.”

I’m always hesitant to make anything much about one practice—that’s what I see in most camps. But in this one slice of Saints 2021 camp life, Winston was the more impressive thrower, for sure. When I talked to Payton pre-practice, one of the things he said was, “Where you really miss Drew is the two-minute [offense]. His command of the offense, his decision-making, his accuracy. Just so good.”

It’s like Winston heard Payton’s words in the last few minutes of practice in the cavernous empty ‘Dome. From about his own 20-yard line, Winston sent free-agent wideout Chris Hogan—one of Tom Brady’s former favorites—on a double-move up the left seam. Winston let it fly, maybe 50 yards in the air, and it nestled perfectly in the arms of Hogan, who had a step on the secondary. Touchdown.

Winston, of course, lost his Tampa gig because he turned the ball over more than any quarterback in football from 2015-19. He’s been better under Payton, but the bright lights haven’t been on him. Yet. Winston told me he thought his two training camps in New Orleans and time spent learning from Brees last year have given him a new perspective on the position. “One thing Drew blessed me with,” Winston said, “is that even though he didn’t have the [tools] last year that maybe he had early in his career, he was still one of the top quarterbacks in the league because he knew what he could do. For me, it’s been about believing that game plan to game plan, there’s different ways to beat a team. I had to learn there are 10 other guys out there counting on Jameis. He doesn’t need to be Superman.”

Of course Winston heard that from the coaches in Tampa too. He just couldn’t be disciplined enough to check it down and be content with being great in the short and intermediate field for the Bucs. He needs those traits if he wants to play for Payton. Tonight, we’ll see if Winston can put everything he’s learned, from Payton and Brees, into one very important outing.

Read more in this week’s Football Morning in America column.

2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13: Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF

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Week 13 on Sunday Night Football features a showdown between Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) and Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock. December is here and Week 13 means that we’re officially thinking about the NFL playoff picture, and who will be in contention for a spot in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, this February. Here’s how things stand in the playoff picture heading into the weekend:

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

Where do the Colts and Cowboys stand in the 2022 NFL Playoff Picture ahead of Week 13?

Indianapolis Colts:

The Colts entered this season expecting to contend for the AFC South but with 5 losses in the last 6 games, Indianapolis is in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight year. Offensive struggles have been a resounding theme in Indianapolis all season long and contributed to the firing of head coach Frank Reich just nine games into the season. Jeff Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this year, was Reich’s replacement and is currently 1-2 in the new role. The Colts enter Week 13 three games behind the AFC South-leading Titans.

RELATED: Trevon Diggs, Michael Gallup miss practice with an illness

Dallas Cowboys:

It’s a completely different story for the Dallas Cowboys who are coming off back-to-back wins over the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, both NFC contenders. Dallas looks to become the first team to win consecutive division titles in the NFC East since 2001-2004 but sits 2 games behind the powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles for the best record in the NFC East entering Week 13.

See below for the 2022 NFL playoff clinching scenarios and standings for Week 13 as well as additional information on how to watch and live stream this week’s Colts vs Cowboys match-up.

RELATED: How to watch Colts vs Cowboys  – TV/Live Stream info for Sunday night’s game

2022 NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios for Week 13:

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs. NY Jets (7-4) – Sunday, December 4 (1:00 PM ET)

The Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title this Sunday with the following:

  • A win against the NY Jets AND a Detroit Lions loss against the Jaguars

OR

  • A tie against the NY Jets AND a Detroit Lions loss against the Jaguars

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs Tennessee Titans (7-4) – Sunday, December 4 (1:00 PM ET)

The Philadelphia Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with the following:

  • A win against the Titans AND a Washington Commanders loss to the Giants AND a 49ers loss/tie to the Dolphins AND a Seahawks loss/tie to the Rams

OR

  • A win against the Titans AND a Washington Commanders tie with the Giants AND a 49ers loss to the Dolphins AND a Seahawks loss to the Rams

RELATED: PFT’s Week 13 2022 NFL power rankings

AFC Standings – Week 13

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
  2. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
  3. Tennessee Titans (7-4)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
  5. Miami Dolphins (8-3)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
  7. New York Jets (7-4)

In the Hunt:
Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
New England Patriots (6-6)
Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)

NFC Standings – Week 13

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
  6. NY Giants (7-4)
  7. Washington Commanders (7-5)

In the Hunt:
Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Atlanta Falcons (5-7)
Detroit Lions (4-7)


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • 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

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

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

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew 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.


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: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

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. 

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


 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!

How to watch Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys: TV, live stream info for Sunday night’s game

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It’s the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys this Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch tonight’s game.

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts fell 24-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night in their 7th loss of the season and 2nd loss under interim head coach Jeff Saturday. Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this season, took over after the Colts fired Frank Reich ahead of Week 10. Reich spent 5 seasons with the Colts, reaching the playoffs just twice (2018, 2020) and finishing with a 40-33-1 record in the regular season. Indianapolis’ offensive struggles have continued this season after ranking 10th in scoring last season at 26.5 points per game. Entering Week 13, the Colts are averaging 15.8 points per game–they’re tied with the Texans who are ranked 31st in the league. Ryan went 22-of-34 for 199 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Monday night’s loss. RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

RELATED: Jeff Saturday on not using timeouts – “I thought we had plenty of time”

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys completed the season series sweep with a 28-20 win over the New York Giants last Thursday evening. Prescott finished 21-of-30 for 261 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. RB Ezekiel Elliot, who was playing in his second game since returning from a knee injury, rushed for a season-high 92 yards and ignited the Cowboys’ offense scoring the first touchdown of the game. On defense, the Cowboys had 3 sacks–two of them were from OLB Micah Parsons who ranks 2nd in the league with 12 sacks this season. Dallas currently has one of the best defenses in the NFL and leads all teams with 45 sacks this season. The Cowboys have won 4 of their last 5 games and enter Week 13 just two games behind Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East lead.

RELATED: Dak Prescott – I am as confident as I can be in this team


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • 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

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

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

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew 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.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13 – Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF


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: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

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. 

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


 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!