Not the most dramatic of week eighteens, but before we get back to the Week of Damar, let’s focus on the notables from the final day of the final regular-season week ahead of the Wild Card round:
Josh McCown, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Texans fired Lovie Smith Sunday night after returning home from the nightmare victory in Indianapolis, announcing the move at a deadline-inconvenient 11:27 p.m. ET. (Yes, I said nightmare victory, relinquishing the top overall pick. At least Lovie can always say, “I finished 2-1 in my last three!”) Now let’s see if Cal McNair’s still smitten with Josh McCown.
Wild Card Weekend is set in stone. There’s not a can’t-miss matchup, but here we go (all times Eastern):
Seattle (NFC 7 seed) at San Francisco (NFC 2 seed), 4:30 p.m. on FOX
L.A. Chargers (AFC 5 seed) at Jacksonville (AFC 4 seed), 8:15 p.m. on NBC
Miami (AFC 7 seed) at Buffalo (AFC 2 seed), 1 p.m. on CBS
N.Y. Giants (NFC 6 seed) at Minnesota (NFC 3 seed), 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Baltimore (AFC 6 seed) at Cincinnati (AFC 3 seed), 8:15 p.m. on NBC
Dallas (NFC 5 seed) at Tampa Bay (NFC 4 seed), 8:15 p.m. on ESPN
J.J. Watt leaving the field for the last time was a sight to see:
— Matty BWell (@MattyB4949) January 9, 2023
Get the gold jacket ready for a 2028 fitting.
If that’s it for Devin McCourty, he went out fittingly—with two takeaways for the outmanned Patriots in Buffalo.
And Tom Brady?
And you, Aaron Rodgers?
Good thing the Eagles get the bye. Of quarterback Jalen Hurts and his bum shoulder, coach Nick Sirianni said after a laconic win over the Giants, “I knew he was hurting, and hurting bad.” Now Hurts has till the weekend of Jan. 21 to prepare for the divisional round.
Texans picked a funny way to win the top draft choice. Lovie Smith’s team actually played to win the game.
The 12-win Cowboys have looked like the six-win Cowboys over the past five weeks. I bet the Bucs will be a dangerous game for Dallas.
Last time Miami was impressive? November. Without Tua, the Dolphins’ chances in Buffalo are something like the Pirates’ chances to win the National League flag in 2023.
Patriots, 8-9. Last time New England won a playoff game was 46 months ago. Or was it 46 years? Tom Brady beat Jared Goff, Pats over Rams, in the Super Bowl.
Lions, 9-8. Jared Goff, last nine games: 7-2, 15 touchdowns, zero interceptions. That’s an incredible job, Dan Campbell, going into Lambeau with nothing to play for but pride and beating Aaron Rodgers.
For the Packers, 8-9 is fitting. Only about a thousand questions for this grand franchise.
Brock Purdy has played 5.75 games. He is 6-0. Passer rating in his five starts: 134.0, 117.0, 114.6, 95.4, 141.2. But passer rating’s a dumb stat! Okay. Here’s another stat for you, one I just made up: Since Dec. 1, Brock Purdy’s a top-five NFL quarterback.
Speaking of 5.75 games, that’s how many Lamar Jackson has missed with a bum knee. I have a question about whether the Ravens have to re-think their long-term contract efforts with Jackson, but first, will he play Sunday night in Cincinnati for Wild Card weekend?